Province of Canada, Legislative Assembly, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, (13 March 1865)
By: Province of Canada (Parliament)
Citation: Province of Canada, Parliament, Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the Confederation of the British North America Provinces, 8th Parl, 3rd Sess, 1865 at 962-1032.
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MONDAY, March 13, 1865.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—When the House was about to adjourn on Friday night, it was arranged that we should finish to-day the proceedings connected with the Address. I therefore now move:—
That a select committee, consisting of Hon. Messrs. Attorneys General Macdonald and Cartier, and Galt and Brown, and Messrs. Robitaille and Haultain, be appointed to draft an Address to Her Majesty on the resolution agreed to on Friday last, the 10th instant, on the subject of the union of the colonies of British North America.
John Cameron [Peel]—Before that motion is carried, I propose to move—as I think this is the proper time—the resolution of which I gave notice some days ago. I therefore now desire to put into your hands, Mr. Speaker, seconded by Mr. M.C. Cameron, that resolution, which is as follows:—
That all the words after “That” be left out, and the following inserted instead thereof: “an humble Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General, praying that His Excellency, in view of the magnitude of the interests involved in the resolutions for the union of the colonies of British North America, and the entire change of the Constitution of this province, will be pleased to direct that a constitutional appeal shall be made to the people, before these resolutions are submitted for final action thereon to the consideration of the Imperial Parliament.”
I understood the other day that it was the intention of the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] to raise a question as to the propriety […]
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[…] of moving this resolution at the present stage of the proceedings. I desire to know whether it is still his intention to raise that objection, because, if it is, I should confine myself in the first place to arguing that point.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I do object. But I do not mean to enter into any argument, but merely to ask the decision of the Speaker on the point of order.
The Speaker—Having learned that the point of order was to be raised, I have looked into the matter, and decide that the resolution is in order.
John Cameron [Peel]—Then, I will proceed to offer to the House the observations which I think it necessary to make, as well on the general subject as on the particular matter embraced in this motion. And as the House is aware that I very rarely trouble it with a speech on any matter, unless I consider it to be one of importance, and that when I do I seldom detain hon. members at any considerable length, I trust they will bear with me in those observations. Considering the length of time that the subject has been discussed, and the great desire that exists in the mind of every one to have this subject brought to a conclusion as rapidly as possible, I promise on this occasion to be brief. I have already, so far as my own individual vote in this House is concerned, done exactly what I would have done if I had only been an elector called upon for his vote.
We have pronounced upon the resolutions submitted to the House, and I have shown my own conviction of their propriety by having voted in their favor; and if I were to exercise my franchise as an elector, I would do outside the House what I have done inside the House, and declare in favor of those resolutions, though not satisfied that the scheme for the Confederation of the provinces would be so advantageous as the larger scheme of a legislative union. But I have always felt that if you desire to obtain something which you believe for the benefit of the country, you should not insist upon that which is impossible—that which cannot be carried, but should endeavor to obtain that which you can fairly reach, and by and by you may get that which, at a far distance, seems impossible. (Hear, hear.)
I believe the Confederation of the colonies will lead hereafter to a legislative union. The only difficulty I have felt is, that I believe it would have been infinitely better if all the powers given to local governments should also be given to the General Government, so that when the time came—when all those smaller stars should fall from the firmament—the General Government would possess all those powers, and there would be no necessity then for framing a new Constitution. This subject, I think, may be fairly considered under three aspects. First, as regards the necessity of a change in the Constitution at all. Secondly, as regards the nature of the change proposed, and how it will affect the interests involved in it. And, thirdly, as regards the propriety of the measure being submitted to the people, before it is finally enacted by the Imperial Legislature. As to the first point—the necessity of a change—I believe there are very few people in the country, in whatever part of it they may be found, who will be prepared to say that some change in the Constitution of the country has not become necessary. I believe we are all satisfied that things cannot go on as they are now.
I believe we are all satisfied that the people are looking out for some alteration, by which they hope a greater amount of prosperity may come to the country, than that which has been around it and about it for some years past. I am firmly convinced in my own mind—against the opinions of one or two hon. gentlemen, who stood up here the other night—that there has not been, since the union of these provinces, a greater amount of depression, a greater want of feeling of prosperity throughout the whole western portion of Canada, than exists there at this moment. I believe that into whatever part of the country you go, you will find that a succession of bad crops, and the difficulties which have arisen from large sums of money having been borrowed at high interest, and the necessity of large remittances to England—that all these have pressed heavily on the energies of the people, and tended to paralyse them; and they are looking out, therefore, in every direction, with the best hopes they can conjure up, for some change or alteration, such as they believe will place theta on a better footing than that which they have hitherto occupied. (Hear, hear.)
The Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] for many years past, with a great number of those who have always been in the habit of acting with him, has believed that if we obtained, in the western portion of Canada, representation […]
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[…] by population, it would have great influence in stimulating the energies of the people, and placing them on a much more satisfactory footing than that on which they now stand. I am satisfied, with that hon. gentleman, that it would have had this effect to a very great extent. But we know very well the antagonisms which existed between the two sections, and that that measure, while pressed by Upper Canada, was resisted by Lower Canada. We have felt—and no doubt many in Lower Canada have felt—that this Confederation of the British North American Colonies would probably not have reached the point it has reached, had the demands—the just demands—of Upper Canada been conceded by Lower Canada; had we been placed in that position on the floor of this House, which we thought the interests of the western portion of Canada required at the hands of the Legislature. (Hear, hear.)
But we have not found that that was done. Lower Canada felt that if representation by population were conceded, there would have been dangers incurred to her own institutions, which she was not willing to place in the hands of the increased number of representatives from Upper Canada. I think the people of Lower Canada were mistaken in that feeling. I do not believe that her institutions would have been dealt with in a way unsatisfactory to her people. The people of Upper Canada, I think, have always been prepared to do what was fair and just towards the people of Lower Canada. (Hear, hear.)
I have no doubt, however, that the people of Lower Canada would be much more ready to take up such a scheme as this, which would give them a Local Legislature to manage their own local affairs, rather than adopt a measure which would place them in what they might conceive to be an inferior position in point of their numbers on the floor of this House, and an inferior position in respect of power—supposing representation by population in the united Legislature of Canada were carried.
There can be no doubt that the idea that there is a necessity for change has not only grown up from the feeling to which I have referred, but from the circumstances connected with our relations to the neighboring republic during the last three or four years. The Reciprocity treaty was passed ten years ago, at a time when the value placed upon the Canadas by the neighboring country was very different from that now placed upon them—when the statesmen of the United States believed the effect of that measure would be gradually to ripen the pear of this country, until it would be prepared to fall into their hands. And, unquestionably, the views of many of those who consented to the Reciprocity treaty, at the time of their consenting to it, were that they expected that its effect would be gradually to facilitate the passage of these colonies into the arms of the United States—to create a feeling in favor of annexation, and to check the feeling which was springing up of an entirely opposite character.
But now there is no doubt that the disposition to abrogate the Reciprocity treaty has not arisen alone from angry feelings against England by the people of the United States, and in consequence of the fancied raids from this country—but also from the fact that there has been a great pressure of taxation upon themselves, and the necessity of raising the tariff, and from the belief that if a tax were placed upon the produce coming in to them from Canada, an increased revenue would result. All these circumstances have given rise to the desire on the part of the people and the Government of the United States to place this question on a different footing from that on which it has stood for ten years, and to repeal that treaty which they represent to be entirely in favor of Canada, though in point of fact it is very largely in favor of the United States. (Hear, hear.)
Another reason why a change is necessary, is—as we cannot conceal from ourselves—that our position as a colony has been greatly altered by the events which have taken place in the United States. We cannot now expect that we can sit with our arms folded, praying that Providence may be good to us, though we do not prepare to defend ourselves. We cannot expect that England will be prepared to take on her shoulders almost the whole of the burden, and that we are to be neither the hewers of wood nor the drawers of water. We must be both. And if we obtain, as I hope, through the resolutions which have been passed, when the proper time comes, we will obtain—if we get the name and status of a nation, we should not be afraid also to take the responsibilities of a nation; and the course most likely to save us from attack is that we should learn in the time of peace to be prepared for the exigency of war, and to put ourselves-a people of four millions, as we will be when united together—in a position […]
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[…] to defend our liberties from whatever quarter they may be attacked. (Cheers.)
We cannot therefore help seeing that a necessity exists for this change, a necessity urged upon us, both by our political position, with reference to the state of the representation in Parliament, and by the position in which, in common with the colonies below, we stand with reference to the probabilities of hostilities from the United States, and the placing of the country in a proper state of defence.
The necessity of change then being admitted—and I believe there is scarcely one honorable gentleman on either side of the House who does not admit it—some think that change should be brought about in one way, some think that it should be brought about in another way. Some think—and the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] at one time apparently was of that opinion—that the most desirable change would be the smaller scheme of the Federation of Canada, divided into two or three provinces—that that would be the best way of averting the evils which threaten us. Some believe we can go on as we are now.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Hear! Hear!
John Cameron [Peel]—And others think that the only way by which we can get into a satisfactory position, would be by a union of the colonies, either in accordance with this scheme, or by a legislative union. I would like to know how many there are who believe that we can go on as we are now.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—Hear! Hear!
John Cameron [Peel]—I believe there are not a half a dozen members of this House who believe that, with the difficulties of our position, we can work the union on present terms. If we cannot, then we have the alternatives of the dissolution of the union—going back to the old position we occupied before the union, which no man would entertain for a moment—or a Federation of the Canadas—or this larger scheme of a union of all the British North American Colonies. If any one for a moment will consider all those projects in the true view in which they ought to be considered, he will see that with reference to the second branch of my subject—the nature of the change, and the magnitude of the interests involved in it—this scheme is the one to whip the Legislature and the people of this, country must necessarily come. (Hear, hear.)
We are desirous of assuming a position on this continent, which will place the whole of these feeble colonies under one united government. And when that united government is formed, when that union does take place, we shall then stand in a position which, according to the facts and figures that have been used from time to time in this debate, will establish us as a power on this continent, and enable us to assist in working out the three problems presented by the three governments—the despotic government of Mexico, the republican government of the United States, and the constitutional government of these colonies. (Hear, hear.)
I trust the result would be, that we should see the government of these colonies standing longer than any of the others, inasmuch as we believe it is based on the more free exercise of the true will of the people, and carries out institutions which in the Mother Country have stood the test of time, toil and wear, until they have become more firmly cemented now than at any former period of their existence. (Hear, hear.) And I cannot help feeling that if there is that necessity for a change, the nature of the change proposed must commend itself to everyone who is a true lover of his country on this side of the Atlantic. (Hear, hear.)
We are five colonies with a population of 4,000,000, and we shall have a debt of about $80,000,000, or about $20 for each inhabitant. In the neighboring republic, from a statement made at the close of last year, we learn that the debt in that country, on the first of July next, will be no less than about $150 on the head of every inhabitant. Hence our young nation, with a debt of only $20 upon each inhabitant, will stand in a position, in reference to debt, far different from what the people of that country will stand.
Let us take a glance over the whole of the British Colonial Empire. England has thirty-eight colonies, containing ten millions of people. Six millions of these are white and four millions are black. Of the six millions of white people, four millions are inhabitants of these British American Colonies. We have for Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, no less than five millions of tons’ capacity of sea-going vessels, and on the lakes seven millions, making a total tonnage of twelve millions, which, in point of tonnage, places us as the third power in the world. No other nations but England and the United States possess a larger tonnage than that, […]
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[…] Nova Scotia itself has a larger tonnage than the great empire of Austria. If this is to be our position in relation to our population, our debt and our tonnage, one cannot well help seeing that we must strengthen ourselves by coming together in a political and commercial union. We have now five independent, and I may say hostile tariffs—a different one in each of the colonies; and we have five different governments. We will then have one strong independent government, and one system of customs taxation. Although we shall not have the same concentrated power that we would have in a legislative union, still we shall have a power that will hold over this country that great force that must be possessed to enable it to bring the whole military force of the country to bear in case its defence becomes necessary, and which will place us in a much better position than ever before.
Look at the whole of the colonies of England, and let us inquire whether, in point of the magnitude of the trade they bring to England and the amount of English goods they consume, compared with the expenditure that England is called upon to make, there is really any valid foundation for the position taken by those political economists of England, of the Manchester and Birmingham school. Take the whole of the exports of England to the colonies, and her imports from those colonies, and what do we find? The exports of England last year amounted to nearly £100,000,000 sterling, while the exports from the colonies to Great Britain amounted to £40,000,000 sterling. Place the colonists, man for man, with foreign countries, and you will find the trade of the colonies is of much more advantage to England than that of foreign nations, independently of all those other great interests which are involved in the retention by England of her colonial possessions.
Take the fact that the whole of England’s expenditure is £40,000,000 sterling, exclusive of the interest of the national debt, while her expense for colonial purposes annually, exclusive of India and of the casual expenses arising from sending troops to colonies where hostilities are taking place, was only some £2,000,000 sterling, of which amount Canada only had but little more than £500,000 sterling. When these things are taken into consideration, I say it will be found that the colonies are of much more value to the Mother-Country than is generally supposed, and much more than the school of politicians to which I have referred would have people believe. If what the Mother Country obtains from our connection with them is of so little importance as to give currency to the doctrines of that school, I do not think it would be hard to show that what we get from our connection with Great Britain is of no very great importance to us, except in the matter of defence.
If we desire to live under the glorious old flag, and to maintain the honored name of British subjects, is it right for our brethren in England, who are “free from touch of spoil,” to say that unless we provide for our own defence, we shall be cast off? We should be looked upon as disloyal if we took the same stand, and declared that we would choose our own connection if we provided the whole expense of our defence. (Hear, hear.)
Sir, I think we should be able to tell the Mother Country that we are prepared to do all in our power for self-defence. When I have stated that the debt of Canada is only $20 per head, and that that of the United States will soon be, if it is not now, $150 per head of the population, I am ready to say that I would most unhesitatingly be willing, for the purpose of completing our connection with the seaboard, of building the Intercolonial Railway, and avoiding the liability we now labor under, of having our connection with Great Britain cut off. I say I would be willing to place $10 additional upon every inhabitant of the country, in order that we might be placed on the true footing on which we ought to stand in the estimation of the people of England and of the world—that of a people who do not consider the mere sacrifice of money as anything to be compared to the duty of defending themselves. (Hear, hear.)
Sir, I think that when a delegation of our Government goes to England, those who compose it ought to be able to say what we are prepared to do for our defence. They ought to be able to say to the English Government that although we were a young and a comparatively poor country; though we have a rigorous climate and are shut out from the sea for a great portion of the year, yet we are a people that have shown more than once that our liberties could not be taken away from us by force of arms, and we are not prepared that they shall be taken in any other way, but that we are ready to take our just share in any scheme that the Mother Country may adopt; but we are not prepared, and cannot be expected, to take the whole burden of defending this exposed portion of the British Empire upon […]
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[…] ourselves. Look at our bonds in the English market. The British public are under the apprehension that we may at any moment be invaded by the United States, or that the views of the Manchester school may prevail, and our 5 per cents stand at 80. The position of the United States along our long exposed border is such that in their present excited and ready-armed condition we might be plunged into hostilities at any moment, and therefore our Government ought to say to the Imperial Government that it was absolutely necessary to make arrangements for defence on a large scale—that we are prepared to do that which we ought to do, but you cannot expect us to go to the whole of the expense which would be entailed by the depreciation of our bonds in the market.
If we are to do so, or even to go to any large expense, you must guarantee our debentures. With the knowledge that you are our security, we need not care whether the United States is going to cross our border with hostile intent or not. If our neighbors know that any requisite amount will be given us either upon your loan or upon endorsement, so that our bonds will stand on the market at par, they will have reason to think twice before attacking us. When the English Government are prepared to back us in that way, then I say we ought to go forward and cooperate with them in carrying out an extended system of defensive works, bearing at least the principal portion of the burden. We do not care for their spending £50,000 a year in dribbling up a few fortifications at Quebec, while we put another small sum out in patching up earth works in the west, just to invite the Americans over when the works are half built, forming a trap for ourselves in which we may be more effectually caught. I am sure every member of this House, and every citizen of Canada must have been surprised at the position taken by English statesmen in reference to Canadian defences, and at their speaking of there being only a few days in the year in which men could work, in this climate, in building fortifications.
I read the other day that it had been stated in England that there was only a month of the year that men could work out of doors to advantage. Although it is true that for about half the year our communication with the sea is cut off by the formation of ice, yet men can work out of doors in Western Canada all the year round, and during the other half in Eastern Canada, and with the exception of a few very stormy days, at one or another branch of the work required in erecting fortifications. But so far as guarding against attack from tube United States is concerned, the great thing is to let them know that, whether we spend the money immediately—this summer—or not, we have it to spend. It should be known that both the Imperial Parliament and the Provincial Parliament have voted the money, and that it would be put into the most approved fortifications as rapidly as it could be. The people of the South soon built fortifications, behind which to fight for their liberties, and we too should be prepared to fight for our liberties. It is to the money they spent in fortifications that they owe their existence as a formidable power at the present time.
The idea should not go abroad that we are about to spend a little matter of fifty or a hundred thousand pounds in doing a little plastering here and a little mason work there, but we should proceed as rapidly as possible to show that we are prepared to expend in effective works all the money that may be necessary to put ourselves in a condition to resist invasion, even with a handful of troops, until more can be sent us. As we are at present, the Government of the United States feel that we are at their mercy, and that they can deal with us as they please. To-day they impose an obnoxious passport system upon us, and to-morrow they relieve us from that source of annoyance. To-day they threaten us with a repeal of the Reciprocity treaty, and to-morrow will, perhaps, be prepared, if we are good children, to continue its operation. To-day the bonding system is to be repealed; to-morrow we hear no more of it. Next we hear of their intention of placing a force of gunboats on the lakes, and then we hear that the intention has been abandoned. What are all these fair promises they indulge in, and good feelings they endeavor to call up, but blinds of their real purpose?
Does anybody believe that it is not in their hearts to do all those things with which they threaten us, and is it not our duty to be prepared to meet the consequences of their threats being carried into execution? They now see that we are being aroused in this country, and they begin to treat us more mildly, until they come to some settlement with the South. They begin to see that they have acted aggressively against this paw of the British lion a little too soon—that the British lion is in danger […]
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[…] of being waked up. (Hear, hear.)
And, Mr. Speaker, I think it would be a good thing if we were a little more aroused in this country by the events that are transpiring about us, and that the people of England should become a little more in earnest, so that the people of the United States should not fall into the habit of regarding the British lion, as the Paris Charivari called it, as a stuffed lion. I sometimes wish the British lion would roar—(laughter)—as it has roared in times past, and as it roared when it made the Emperor of all the Russia tremble in his shoes. (Hear, hear.) I am afraid our neighbors are getting into the very false notion that it is only the skin of the animal that we have now—(laughter)—and that if the voice were heard, it would not be a roar, but a bray. But they must not trust too much to this idea, or they will be rudely awakened someday by finding the bones, and the blood, and the muscle of the mighty old animal of yore. I feel, sir that we cannot do our duty to the Imperial authorities, nor they to us, unless we become united into one Confederation, instead of remaining in the scattered position in which we now stand. What would be our position if we were thus united?
The opponents of Confederation say we should only get a more extended frontier to defend, and have no more men to defend it with; that the frontier we should acquire would be more difficult to defend with the addition of men we would acquire, than our present frontier would be to defend with our own force; that Canada might be called upon to send troops to the Lower Provinces, thus leaving our own frontier exposed, or they would have to send their militia force up here, leaving their borders open to attack. But, in reply to that reasoning, I would say that it is not likely we should be attacked at all points at once. We might be compelled to withdraw entirely from one portion of the territory in order to defend more important portions, or to obtain more defensible positions; but no man can hesitate to agree that it is infinitely better, for all purposes of defensive action, that the whole militia force of the country should be under the control of one executive head, who could grasp the whole force in one hand, than that they should be scattered over a wide domain of exposed territory, under the command of different executives, all of whom would have to be communicated with before any concentration could take place.
The true position in which we should stand before the world is, that the whole militia force should be understood to be under the control of one Central Government; for in that way, common sense ought to tell everybody, they would be of far more value in defense than they could possibly be if divided, and the moral effect produced upon a foreign power, contemplating attack would be very greatly enhanced, were it understood we were one united people, instead of being a divided community. Our entire population would be four millions of people, which, at the ordinary rate of computation, would give us an available militia force of five hundred thousand men. If we believe that our people are really and truly a loyal people, warmly attached to the Constitution of the good old land, because believing that the engrafting of the institutions of that country upon the soil of this continent offers the best and greatest security for every man who desires to enjoy the blessings of a free country and free institutions, then we would, if united, have not only this sentiment of attachment to the English Throne, but we would have the machinery, which this great Constitution provides, in our hands by which we could carry out and defend our liberties and our people in the enjoyment of their free constitutional government. (Hear, hear.)
Our opponents say we are hardly ripe, hardly of age fit to enter upon a new nationality. Why, sir, there are none of the lesser powers of Europe, except Belgium and Bavaria, that have a population of four millions. If we cannot establish a nation when we have four millions of people, what shall we say of Greece with its population of only one million? If we are ever to form ourselves into a nationality—and few will deny that it is our destiny to be united at some time—what better time will ever be likely to present itself for handing down to posterity the boon of a united and free nation—the greatest boon that a government and people can transmit—than the opportunity which the present favorable state of affairs presents to us? It is offered to us freely and openly in the face of the world, and we hope to convince the world hereafter that of the three systems of government now in existence on this continent, ours is the best. We have the despotic throne of the Montezumas filled by a foreign prince, and propped up by foreign bayonets; we brave the republican government of the United States, based on the principle that all men are free and equal […]
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[…] and that the will of the majority must govern and be right; and we have the responsible government provided by the British Constitution, under which the English nation has existed so long, and beneath the protection of which her colonies have spread out, until upon their wide expanse the sun never goes down. (Cheers.)
This latter form of government we believe to be the best we can adopt for present purposes, and for the purpose of transmission to our descendants upon this continent. Mr. Speaker, if we have institutions, population, wealth and territory of such extent and of such immense value to protect, and have the opportunity of uniting for their protection so freely given us, then is the end sought to be accomplished by the change that cannot but commend itself most clearly and distinctly to the mind of every one who desires to see a united and happy people inhabiting the territory of British North America, and stretching from ocean to ocean, under the protecting semis of the British Constitution, the British form of government, and the British Crown.
We have, in my own humble opinion, but two future states of existence to choose for ourselves. We have, on the one side, the opportunity to make ourselves a nation, able and willing to protect ourselves, with the aid of the Mother Country, and to grow wealthy and prosperous under that form of existence. On the other hand, we have the certain prospect of absorption, at no distant period, into the United States. There is no alternative. (Hear, hear, ironically.)
We must either adopt the one or make up our minds to submit to the other. I have no doubt but that an immense number of the people would not be willing to remain and submit to the latter alternative, but like the led U.E. loyalists, would even abandon all they possessed rather than cease to have the protection of the British flag, and bear the name of British men—men in whom loyalty is not a mere lip sentiment, but in whom it forms as much a constituent element of the blood as the principle of vitality itself. (Hear, hear.)
I am satisfied, sir, that there is no other alternative—no choice for us between the endeavor on our part to concentrate British power and British feeling on this continent, and falling into the open arms of the republican government of the United States (Hear, hear ) And, Mr. Speaker, when we examine the extent of the domain open to us, when we reflect that we would rest with one foot upon the broad Atlantic and the other upon the Pacific, and remember the vast, fertile and salubrious territory that lies between us and the Rocky Mountains—those rich valleys of the Saskatchewan and the Assiniboine, the fertility of which are said to be far superior, and are certainly equal to any portion of this country—when we think of them and of the vast number of people that could be poured into them from the old world to developed their resources and bring their treasures down the lakes to our marts—I say when we see all these things, we see a future arising for us which is to me, and ought to be to others, so bright that no man should hesitate to accept that rather than the only other alternative—drifting in small provinces into the United States, where we can’t but be borne down by their burden of taxation. (Hear, hear.)
But some people say we will escape taxation by going over to the Americans; that they would take us in to-morrow, and agree to put no taxation upon us for their war debt; but is not that idea chimerical, when they entertain no doubt that they can overrun and conquer us at any time, and force us to share in their debt, as well as discharge our own? With regard to our prospects in the way of settlement and the extending of our population and wealth, look at what we could do towards attracting emigrants from the old country to our lands. But here I must refer to one feature of the scheme that has been adopted by this House that I hope to see changed. I believe it is a fatal error to place the wild lands in the hands of the local governments, who may thereby enter into regulations for immigration that will be antagonistic, and that will tend to retard rather than promote the settlement of this country All those lands ought to have been placed in the hands of the General Government, in order that one comprehensive system of immigration might be adopted.
When we look at Upper Canada, and ascertain that of her eighty millions of acres there are only thirteen and a half millions in the hands of proprietors—an average of nine arced to each inhabitant—when we see the vast quantity of land in this country available for cultivation, not yet turned to account, we cannot help coming to the conclusion that we have a vast field for immigration to fill up, and which ought to have been placed under control of the General Government—[…]
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[…] not left to be speculated upon by the local governments. Now, sir, when one sees all that, and feels and knows that the great change which will be brought about by this union will give us so many things that are desirable, I say the magnitude of the interests that ate involved ought to recommend to us, in the strongest manner, a change of the character of which I have been speaking—a change that would tend to place this country on such a footing that none can fail to see that we would eventually become the members of a great community, and that in a much shorter space of time than many people imagine. (Hear, hear.)
Allow me for a moment, sir, to allude to the history of the United States, to see the position in which that country once stood. In 1792, the United States, with a population, at that time, of nine millions of people, had a revenue of a little over four and a-half millions of dollars, while in Canada, in 1863, with a population to two and a-half millions, we had a revenue of fourteen millions of dollars. In 1821, when their population had greatly increased, the whole of their exports and imports amounted to ninety-eight millions of dollars, while ours, in 1863, with a population of only two and a-half millions, was no less than eighty-nine millions of dollars; that is, within nine millions of the entire imports and exports of the United States in 1821. It is true that since that time all those facilities which have made the United States a great power on this continent—the construction of railways and telegraphs, the application of steam power to all kinds of machinery, and other inventions of the past two or three decades—have sprung into existence, and they have reached forward to greatness with railroad speed.
But, still, it is nothing against the argument to say that as we have, within the memory of man, risen so rapidly not only in population, but in everything that tends to place Canada on a footing that ought to be satisfactory to every well-wisher of his country, there is any reason to imagine, for one moment, that all the changes have been made that will be made, and that with the enterprise and exertions of a common and enlightened people, we will not be in a position to continue the prosperity that has sprung up within so short a time, and which has increased until within the last three or four years, when, from natural causes and the war in the United States, it received so serious a check. We shall find ourselves, in my opinion, so soon on the highroad to prosperity, by means of the union now contemplated, that we shall not care to envy the progress of any nation whatever. (Hear, hear.)
Now, sir, when I have stated my reasons for believing that there is a necessity for such a change, and having endeavored to show the nature of the change proposed, I shall now proceed to show why the resolution which I hold in my hand, and which I offer for the adoption of this House, is one that ought to be accepted. I have said, sir that I, as an individual member of the Legislature of Canada, had not hesitated to take upon myself the responsibility of voting in favor of the resolutions respecting Confederation, although they had not been accepted by the people of this country in any constitutional manner. I said that I did so upon the same principle as I would have done if I had been voting upon them outside of the House instead of inside. I would have voted for them as an elector, because I believe they form a just basis for the contemplated union; and, sir, I desire to offer exactly the same opportunity to every elector to pursue the same course that I would pursue, and I make the same claim on their behalf that I would make to this House on my own.
I think that they are entitled to have this matter submitted for their consideration before the resolutions that have passed this House are finally acted upon by the Imperial Legislature. (Hear, hear.) .
Now, sir, it has been said that the effect will be to postpone the accomplishment of the union for an indefinite period, whereas the pressure of circumstances are such that no time should be lost in placing ourselves in such a position of defence that we should be able to meet and hold back any force that might be sent against us.
Well, sir, there is nothing in the resolution I have proposed that would, in my judgment, interfere with the immediate carrying out of the project. The Government have told us that they propose to prorogue Parliament in a few days, and they have also told us that we are to be called together again in the summer. What is to prevent us from considering the subject at the summer session? It is to be presumed that the Imperial Government will endeavor to come to some conclusion upon the resolutions which have been framed by the Conference, and which have been laid on the tables of both Houses of the English Parliament, and I see nothing to prevent the Imperial […]
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[…] Government from declaring their views upon the subject. I think there would be nothing whatever to prevent our Government from going to England, and offering these resolutions for the consideration of the Imperial Legislature, allowing that Legislature to act upon them as they might think proper; but, at the same time declaring that the law to be passed ought not to come in force in the different colonies until it had been accepted by the legislatures of those colonies. There would be no time lost.
It would be as easy for this Parliament to be dissolved and to meet together again in time to take up the consideration of the measure, which Great Britain had in the meantime passed, as it would be to meet again in the summer, and go through the same process. Way is Canada to be treated upon an entirely different rule from that which has been adopted in the other provinces? The Legislature of New Brunswick was dissolved in order that the people might be appealed to on this question. The Hon. Attorney General of Newfoundland has declared that it is the intention of the Government of that colony to appeal to the people upon it, and that nothing will be done until their opinion is obtained. (Hear, hear.)
In Nova Scotia, too, the Government do not, as I understand, make it a government question. It is not to be put in that position, and if a difficulty arises in having it adopted by the Legislature, the Government of Nova Scotia are prepared to dissolve their Legislature too. I do not say anything about Prince Edward Island—its acceptance or rejection of the scheme would be old very small account. But their Legislature will, no doubt, also be dissolved, in order that the people may have an opportunity of expressing their opinions upon it, if their House of Assembly is found hostile,—a step which, no doubt, our Government would have taken if this House had shown itself hostile to the measure. Because this House is not hostile, and because Ministers found themselves strong enough to carry it by a large majority, they declared they would take the course they have adopted, although in the other provinces the case has been put on an entirely different footing. (Hear, hear.)
Now, sir, let us consider why we should be placed in the same position in which the legislatures and people of the Lower Provinces are placed. We hear it stated on all sides of this House that the whole country is in favor of this measure. If so, why should there be any hesitation about asking the country to confirm by an election that which is so clearly advantageous and which is so sure to be carried?
But, sir, I hear it said, inside of this House and outside of this House, that the people of Lower Canada are opposed to this measure. If that be so then—if they are so strongly opposed to it as has been represented—is it a wise step for us to force it upon them against their will? (Hear, hear.)
We are arranging to adopt an entirely new state of governmental existence, and are proposing to embrace a large area of country under this new form of government. We are claiming for it, and desire that it shall have its best and safest foundation in the hearts of the people. And, sir, will you not find it stronger in the hearts and more deeply rooted in the estimation of the people, if you appeal to them and obtain their sanction to it and their support in carrying it out? (Hear, hear.)
In proposing that it shall have the sanction of the people, I do not contemplate the absurdity, unknown to our form of government, of asking them for a direct yea or nay upon it. No such thing as that has ever been entertained in my mind. I propose to have it done in a constitutional manner. My whole political history would have shown any man acquainted with it, that there could have been no such democratic idea harbored by me as to go without the walls of the Constitution in order to do an act which could be better done within it.
Therefore, any one who had for a moment the belief, that while I was endeavoring to build up, I was at the same time putting forth what may be called a sacrilegious hand to pull down, was very much mistaken as to the course I was to pursue—the only proper and safe course that could be pursued. If you wish to erect this monument of a new nationality on the true feelings and hearts of the people, you must erect it upon an appeal to them. You should not be afraid of it. You may say that difficulties will arise –that other questions will be raised—that the elections will not always turn on the direct issue—for Confederation or against Confederation. But I tell you that it will, if the people are so much in favor of this project as you say. (Hear, hear.)
The merits or demerits of the candidates will be passed to one side, and the vote will be taken on the true merits of Confederation—otherwise the people are not worthy of […]
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[…] having that appeal made to them. An appeal has been made to history, and it has said that appeals to the people on questions of this kind are unknown under the British Constitution. The cases of the union between England and Scotland, of the union between Great Britain and Ireland, and of the union of the Canadas themselves, have been referred to; and it has been asked if in any of those cases an appeal was made to the people, and an answer given in the negative I am not prepared to accept that answer as altogether correct in point of fact. I the first of those cases, where the resistance was perhaps the greatest, an appeal was made to the people. It was not until long after the matter was first mooted that the union between England and Scotland was brought about.
It was questioned at that time—just as afterwards, in 1799, with reference to the union of Ireland—whether the Scottish Parliament had power to deliver up the franchise of the people into the hands of the English Parliament. With reference to the union of Scotland with England, the matter was brought before the people—not in one, or in two, but in many ways. There were commissioners appointed, and conventions, and various attempts to bring about that union before it was finally consummated. It was attempted in James the First’s time, in Charles the First’s time, in Cromwell’s time, and again in the reign of King William, and finally carried out in the reign of Queen Anne. The proclamation summoning the Scottish Parliament of 1702 declared that among other things, it was to treat of the union of Scotland with England. (Hear, hear.)
We have still extant in the books the very words of that proclamation, which declared that that Parliament was summoned in Scotland for the very purpose of treating of this question That Parliament did not finally decide upon the matter, but the following Parliament did, and the union was consummated. And that Parliament was in exactly the position of that of 1702, having been called together by precisely the same kind of proclamation. (Hear hear.)
That matter of the union between England and Scotland was, I believe, the only subject that was discussed. And. although subsequently the greatest hostility was aroused, and troops had to be sent from the north of Scotland, it was not until after that Parliament had been for sow time assembled that petitions came in from any of the burghs against it. (Hear, hear.)
We have been told in this debate that there is now the satisfaction of content all over the province in reference to this measure. Allow me to tell you that in many localities, it is the deadness of apathy and not the satisfaction of content. This has arisen, not because the people do not feel an interest in the question, but because there has been a pressure upon them from many causes, and that they have had to contend with a great number of difficulties of one kind or another, resulting in an unexampled want of prosperity. (Hear, hear.)
They are, therefore, looking out apparently for anything–they are not particular what—which they believe would tend to relieve them from the difficulties of their present position. I say this, although I should be glad that it was not apathy, or deadness, or death, but contentment, throughout the length and breadth of the land, which was leading to the general acceptance of this measure. I believe that in the western part of the country—I cannot speak for the eastern part, unless in so far as it is shown by the petitions which have been sent in, and the opinions which have been expressed in this House by honorable members from Lower Canada—but in the western portion of the country, I am satisfied, from my own personal knowledge of the feeling existing there, that a large majority, equal to if not greater than that which voted the other night on the floor of this House, would be returned at another election in favor of this measure (Hear, hear.)
And it is because I believe that, and would not leave it for anyone to say that the people had not had an opportunity of expressing themselves, through an election, on a matter of such vital importance—that I claim that it should be submitted to them, in order that they shall declare by their votes whether they are in favor of this measure or not. (Hear, hear.)
In speaking of the union of Scotland, of the union of Ireland, and the union of the Canadas, we must recollect that the same circumstances to a great extent existed. In the case of the Scottish union, there were those desolating wars between England and Scotland in which the best blood of both lands had been shed, and there had long existed a perpetual feud and hostility which had left the border country—now a smiling and fertile territory—a barren and desolate waste. Then again, when the union of Ireland with Great Britain took place, there was a rebellion just quenched—there were […]
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[…] 40,000 troops in the country—there were one hundred and sixteen placemen in the House—and there may have been good reasons for the fact that a majority of some six or seven in the Irish Parliament against the union had dwindled down and disappeared next session, being swallowed up in a majority of tarry-five. In this country the same thing had occurred. The union was consummated when the embers of the rebellion of 1837-38 were still supposed to be slumbering in various parts of the land—and there were, therefore, strong reasons why, in the midst of disquiet and disturbance—when there might be a difficulty about elections being conducted with purity and freedom from Executive control—such a question should not be submitted to the people.
But now we have no such cause. We are told that the people are happy, contented and prosperous, though desirous of some change—and there is, therefore, no exciting cause to prevent a free and full expression of the mind of the people by a general election—nothing to prevent the whole matter being placed on a proper footing before the people, and men being chosen with reference to their views on the subject of Confederation, and that alone. You have nothing to prevent this new system being inaugurated on the true and proper basis on which it ought to be inaugurated, namely, on the popular will, and receiving therefore, from the outset, that strength which the popular will alone could give to it, in its endorsement by those who have a right to send representatives to this House. (Hear, hear.)
It has been said that a motion of this kind takes away, in point of fact, from the Legislature, the power which the Legislature has. By denying the right of the Legislature to make any such change. I do not say anything against the power of the Legislature. The Legislature has, within the limits that are assigned to it, all the rights which its charter gives it. But I cannot help feeling that when we are dealing with this question, we are dealing with it very differently from the manner in which it was dealt with, either by the independent Parliament of Scotland, or by the independent Parliament of Ireland. We are acting under a limited charter and constitution—having no right ourselves to deal with this matter finally by any act of our own—having only the right to deal with it by these resolutions, and not to enact it with the authority of law. (Hear, hear.)
We, therefore, stand limited in our powers at the outset—so limited that it has been decided in Newfoundland, that the privileges which belong to the House of Commons and the House of Lords in England do not belong entirely to our legislative bodies—that these have grown with time, until they have become incorporated with the very existence of the Imperial Parliament—while we hold our privileges in a very different way, not having the same comprehensive grasp of them, as in the case of the House of Commons. It is clear that we have not the same power as the Imperial Parliament—otherwise we should not be obliged to go to that body for its sanction of these resolutions.
And there are limitations of the power of the Imperial Parliament itself, to which we also are subject. We cannot make any act of ours permanent, any more than we can make ourselves permanent, because another Parliament has the right to repeal what we have done. We cannot of ourselves enact this measure into a law. We can offer these resolutions—we have the power to do that—and the Imperial Government and Parliament have, no doubt, the power to act upon them as they choose.
But the question is—is it wise to give these resolutions the force of law; is it proper to do so; is it the most just course to take towards the people of this country, to declare that in a matter of this importance we will legislate for them, to the extent of introducing an entire change of the Constitution—of providing that the Upper Chamber, which they have declared to be elective, shall cease to be elective, and shall be nominated by the Crown, without consulting them?
I do not mean to say, with regard to that change, that it is not a beneficial change. I was one of the few who stood on the floor of this Legislature battling against the change from nomination by the Crown to election by the people in the Upper House. I was one of those also who contended for resolutions, the effect of which would be to place the power of the people in the Lower House, by representation according to numbers in that body, with equal representation for the two sections of the province in the Upper House.
And I recollect that some hon. gentlemen now on the Treasury benches—the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] among others, through the columns of the influential paper he controls—declared that the idea embodied in those resolutions was absurd, and […]
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[…] could not be acted upon, although the very idea which the Government have now incorporated in this scheme, from a different point of view. (Hear, hear.)
And the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] voted, as I did, against the introduction of the elective principle, and in favor of the retention of the nominative principle—not, however, for the reasons I did, but for different reasons altogether, as he explained at the time.
But the view he entertains now, in favor of a nominated Legislative Council, was the view he entertained then, and the change is one which I will be glad to see brought about. But it is a change of which the people at the last election had no idea. And the alteration in the minds of public men has been so great, within a short space of time, that I say we have a right to think and pause and reflect. (Hear, hear.)
Look at the programme which was brought down on this subject by the constitutional committee moved for by the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown]. The part of the report of that committee which was most opposed was the Confederation of British North America. And it is well known that what the Government offered, at the time of its formation, was that the lesser scheme of a Federation of the Canadas should go first, and the larger scheme of a Federation of all the colonies afterwards.
They were first of all to try to have a Federal Government for Canada alone, and then to extend that, as circumstances permitted, to the whole of the British North American Colonies. Well, in the short space of little over three months, men’s minds were so changed that the Federation of the Canadas ceased to be talked of, and the Confederation of the whole provinces came up in its stead. That scheme for the Confederation of British North America, which a short time ago seemed to have but very few supporters, was brought suddenly before us with a large number of supporters. How do we know that there may not be a change again in a short space of time—that the whole system with which we are now dealing, and. on which hon. gentlemen have placed their views before the country, may not be changed again, without the people, who are said to be so satisfied with this scheme, having had the matter placed before them for consideration, or the opportunity of voting for or against the scheme?
Therefore I believe it would be wiser, better, and more for the interests of the whole of this country—and that it would greatly strengthen the power which this Confederate Government would have—were it voted upon by the people in the constitutional mode of a general election, before it is finally resolved upon as the Constitution of these colonies. I believe that if you wish to root it in the minds of the people, you will remove the objection which may at any time spring up, and be made the means, in the hands of designing men, of creating dissatisfaction hereafter. And I say that for the sake of carrying this scheme in the Lower Provinces, it is desirable to take this course. What is the reason of the suspicion entertained with regard to this scheme by the Lower Provinces? They say that the Government of Canada is urging it so rapidly, that there must be some arrière pensée—that there is something in it which will place her in a better position—that they are therefore pressing it upon the people of Canada and of the Lower Provinces, without giving them an opportunity of considering it fairly.
One of the things made use of in the Lower Provinces is that our interest in the matter is so great, and we are entangled in so many difficulties, that we wish the other provinces united with us in order that, on their credit united with ours, we may be able to incur greater liabilities, and carry out our views as to public works, the benefit of which we will gain exclusively, although the Lower Provinces assume their share to the liability. For the present, therefore, unless by a great stretch of power on the part of the Imperial Parliament, it will be impossible to force it on the Lower Provinces.
They say that Canada, pressing it in that way, must have some ulterior object in view, which does not distinctly appear. Can we suppose for a moment that the position of the gentlemen going to England will be, that they will press the Imperial Parliament to pass this measure, coûte que coûte, whether the Lower Provinces like it or not, urging that as Canada possesses the larger population—two-thirds of the whole—if she desires to have it the others must have it, whether they will or not. If that policy were pursued, it would be necessary, first of all, to deprive them of their constitutions, and then to declare that they must unite with us—that the will of the majority should overrule the wishes of the minority, exactly as in the United States, where everything depends on the will of the majority, and the minority are presumed to have but few […]
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[…] rights, if any at all. But if you show that not only the majority of this Parliament, but the majority of the people also in Canada, are in favor of this scheme; and if you can show what the majorities in the Lower Provinces are at the same time—if you can in this way show what is the will of the majority of the whole of the people of these provinces, you will have your hands much strengthened, when you go to England, if you wish to say that because Canada asks it, and the majority of the whole people of these provinces asks it, the Lower Provinces must be compelled to come in. The passage of this resolution, in my judgment, would not imperil the passage of the scheme at all. It would not prevent the gentlemen who go home from taking such steps before the Imperial Parliament as they would think it desirable to take, or as they might be instructed here to take by the Government of which they are members.
Let the Imperial Parliament pass the measure, according to the views of the delegates, confirmed by the action of this Parliament—but let them say that the measure shall not come into force in all these colonies until each Parliament has voted upon it. And let each Parliament be elected by the people, with special instructions to declare whether this new Constitution shall be the Constitution of these colonies or not. Everyone who is a well-wisher of his country—who desires to see it go on and prosper—who believes that the concentration of power in one Executive over all these colonies will place us in a position to assume the name and status of a nation upon the earth—will be glad to find our power in that way consolidated. And if we base the structure, as it ought to be based, on the expressed will of the people themselves, then I think we will be offering to those who come after us, as well as to ourselves, a heritage which every man should be proud of—and which will bring to our shores, from Great Britain and other parts, people who will be desirous to obtain here, along with all the favorable circumstances attendant upon the settlement of our lands, the advantages of the free Constitution which we have made, as nearly as possible, a facsimile of that of the mother-land.
But though I am myself in favor of the Confederation resolutions, and anxious to see them carried out, I am desirous that they shall be carried out in a manner which will be conducive to the best interests of the country, based on a heartfelt expression of opinion by the people, by means of a general election. I promised I would not detain the House, and having presented such arguments as seem to me to require the passage of this resolution, I resume my seat. (Cheers.)
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North] said—I have great pleasure, sir, in seconding the resolution which is now before the House, because I think it is very desirable that before any such a change as that which is proposed should go into effect, the people, who are to be affected by the change, should have an opportunity of pronouncing upon it in a more decisive way than they can through their representatives in this House, who have been sent here for an entirely different purpose than that of making a change in the Constitution. It would not signify to me if the circumstances attending the union of Scotland with England, or of Ireland with England, had furnished no reason for contending that an appeal to the people was proper.
They were entirely different from those under which we are existing. If there had been no precedents whatever, I say that at this enlightened day, when the people interfere and have a right to interfere in the management of their own affairs, no such a change as this should take place without their having a voice in it I do not feel, with the proposer of this resolution, that it is absolutely necessary that a dissolution of this House should take place for the purpose of obtaining an expression of the popular will. I do not see why the taking of a direct vote—yea and nay—would be an unconstitutional proceeding. (Hear, hear.)
I have found that by the legislation of this country a precedent has been established that the people who are to be affected should have the right of voting upon certain measures relating to their financial affairs. We find that in those bodies which the people are empowered to create, and which are as much representative bodies as we are, the township and county councils—whenever a debt is to be created over a certain amount, affecting the communities over which those councils exercise control, the question must first be left to the people to pronounce upon it before it can become law. The people send their representatives to those bodies to legislate for them in a similar manner […]
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[…] to that in which we are sent here to legislate for the country at large. The only difference is the difference between a small legislative body and a large one. They are just as much representatives of the people as we are. When we provide that they shall submit by-laws to a direct vote of the people, can it be said that it is a violation of the Constitution, or even an unjust or improper course to take a vote in a similar way, when so much larger matters are at stake? I do say, sir, that if there were no example for it—if our Legislature had not shown that it was the people’s right to have a voice on all matters affecting them largely—we should now proceed to make that precedent. (Hear, hear.) I do not mean to say, however, in speaking thus, that I am adverse in the slightest degree to there being a dissolution of the House; but it strikes me that we will have a great many side-issues in a contest of that kind, and cannot, therefore, arrive at the direct sense of the people so closely as we should be able to do by a square vote of yea or nay.
Nevertheless, it is of very great importance that before advancing to the end of the proceedings that we have contemplated by passing these resolutions, they should first be submitted to the country in some way. I am in favor of the resolutions going to the people in any way rather than the scheme should be carried out without such expression; and I am also desirous that the public should be awakened from that apathy which has been alluded to by the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron], and which I am also satisfied exists among the people upon this question. The honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] has assorted that there could not be half a dozen gentlemen found on the floor of this House who would say that this country could go on and prosper—but I say it could prosper for the next decade as it has prospered during the past, without any change whatever. I believe I am one of those, few though they may be, who so think; but I am also one of those who thought that it would be very desirable to nave a change in the representation of the different sections of the province, on the floor of this House.
I thought that Upper Canada contributed so much more towards the revenue of this country than Lower Canada that she ought to have a larger voice in rhea disposal of that revenue. Therefore a change of the Constitution, in this respect, has been agitated by men entertaining that opinion, but I never did feel that the people of Lower Canada considered themselves on the eve of a revolution, or that the people of Upper Canada had arrived at that point, that they felt it absolutely necessary to resort to revolutionary measures to obtain justice.
While I feel that we have now arrived at that stage that we can have a union with the Lower Provinces that would give us a strength and a stability that we cannot acquire by the resolutions we have just passed, yet I do not desire that any change should take place without the people of this country having the fullest and freest opportunity of expressing themselves upon its desirability. I desire that the people should have this scheme presented to them, side by side with the proposal for a legislative union, that we may ascertain whether or not they would adopt a Federal union, in preference to a Legislative union. I have been charged with having advanced arguments in discussing the resolutions, which were as applicable and favorable to a Federal as to a Legislative union, and that I said nothing more favorable to tic one than to the other.
Well I admit that if you take three or four isolated points of a man’s argument, you can make them support exactly the opposite of that which his whole course of argument was calculated to uphold, and when you put all of my remarks together, you will find that they bear strongly in favor of the legislative form of union. This much will be found, that every argument which I advanced that could be said to favor Federation, was also an argument in favor of a Legislative union; and, in addition, I brought prominently to view the greater economy, connected with the working of the latter. I consider that argument a strong one, in view of the circumstances at present existing in this country—the suffering in consequence of the failure of crops, and the depression of trade owing to the war in the United States, the position of this country is such that it is not able to bear additional heavy burdens; and if we are going to make a change in our Constitution, that change should be of a character that would lessen those burdens instead of increasing them, if possible.
And if we must incur a heavy burden for defensive purposes, let us have as much saving, in other respects, as we can effect, so that there will be as little expenditure as maybe for the mere machinery of government, and then we shall have a […]
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[…] form of union that will meet the approval of the people, and be perpetuated. Looking at this change that is considered so necessary, let us enquire what events have brought it about. Let honorable gentlemen on the Treasury benches answer for me, and we will find that it has been the cry that retrenchment was absolutely necessary—that if we did not have retrenchment, or give to Upper Canada that fair control over the expenditure of our income that she ought to have, in consequence of her contributing so much more to the revenue, there would be a revolution. That was the way in which the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown], for party and political purposes, chose to discuss this matter while he was in opposition. Not that there was really any danger of revolution, but because there was justice in the cry, they used strong language to give effect to their argument.
Now, I would like to understand and I have not yet been able to understand from any member of this House who has been advocating representation by population—whether there was any reason for believing that we could not have got that constitutional change just as well as we can get this one. It was party feeling that kept the people apart, yet that party feeling was swamped in a moment when the leaders of the parties brought their heads together, and declared that it should no longer exist. They united for the avowed purpose of remedying the difficulties under which the province labored, and for the purpose of giving the people of Upper Canada their rights; and they say this is to be accomplished by a Federal union. They might as well have formed a union for a more economical object—for the purpose of forming a Legislative union between the provinces. It may be said that hon. gentlemen of French extraction from Lower Canada were so determined to resist the demands of Upper Canada, that the rights of that section of the province could never have been obtained, unless by a Federal union of the colonies.
I think, however, that they are men of intelligence, and that if they found Upper Canadians were true to their determination to contend for their rights until they should be obtained, the result would have been very different from what it has been. Hon. gentlemen from Lower Canada, of French origin, must have seen that they were liable to be swept away at any moment that there should be a union between the British of Lower and of Upper Canada. If the issue had been placed fairly and equally before them; if they had been brought to sec that matters had arrived at such a state that it was absolutely necessary that some change should take place—the people of the Eastern Townships and of the eastern part of Upper Canada standing ready to be banded together against them—they would have seen that the elements on the floor of this House where such as would force upon them either a legislative union with the Lower Provinces, or representation by population in Canada alone. Whether a legislative union, with representation by population as a basis, could have been obtained from the Lower Provinces or not, I am not prepared to say; but I am given to understand that the people of the Lower Provinces advocated a legislative union as strongly as those of Upper Canada, and that they were about to carry out a legislative union among themselves.
Now, if Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland were willing to go into a legislative union with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, I do not see why the proposal to bring in an additional province should have effected so complete a change in their views. I am satisfied that if the gentlemen who represented the interests of Upper Canada had set themselves about trying to get that which would have been best for their people, and had endeavored to enforce the lights of Upper Canada, they would have accomplished that which would have been of more service to the people of the united provinces, and which would have placed beyond chance or possibility those contentions which will necessarily result so soon as you have individualized those provinces by giving each a Local Legislature.
By this scheme you will have increased the burdens of the people, and in so doing will have increased their opportunity for discontent. You have given to the general and local legislatures coordinate jurisdiction, or at least have given them the right to legislate on the same questions, and, in thus placing in their hands an element of contention, have shown that you are not building up a firm and stable government. (Hear, hear.) Now it is said that one of the strongest reasons for union is found in the necessity of placing our common country in a position of defence, but I do not see why we cannot make arrangement for a defence under our present government. Let us be told what it is that is required of us, and see whether the different legislatures will not vote the […]
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[…] money necessary. If we can get the money through the Imperial Government, then let us show them that we are prepared to make it good, that we are prepared to raise the money upon our own paper, if they will guarantee it for us. If they will do that, they will find that these provinces are willing and ready to make all due provision for their defence This province is only one of a number which are equally bound to defend themselves with us, as I believe they have the spirit and inclination to do. I fancy you will find as much loyalty in the Lower Provinces as in Canada, and you will find that when we are ready to aid the Mother Country in defence of this portion of her territory, they will be ready too; and as they are now united to the Mother Country as well as ourselves, we could be in no better position for defence through the contemplated union.
The union cannot make us stronger, when we have to look to the Imperial power as the bond that keeps us together under any circumstances. It is to them we shall look for orders when the time comes to act. I am not one of those who like to look at the idea of the severance of the bond between this and the Mother Country, but yet I feel that if Upper Canada is burdened more heavily than she has been by the additional burdens which this Federal union must impose to sustain its costly machinery, there will be great danger of the same state of things being brought about which rendered some change necessary at the present time. It cannot but be felt that this scheme has not been brought forward with a view to more economical government, or with a view to providing the best means of union that could be obtained, but that it had its origin in expediency and compromise.
The people of Canada felt compelled to seek some change, and the people of the Lower Provinces, if they adopt the measure, will in a sense have it forced upon them by the people of Canada. A scheme has been adopted which it is thought will prove the most expedient for the time being, but which must be changed in the course of a few years, after leading us into contentions and strife, such as we have had for the past ten years. Why not pause and discuss the measure more thoroughly, and have it weeded of its defects, so that we may accomplish at once the construction of a Constitution that shall be a lasting one, and not risk the formation of a union on a Constitution that will tumble to pieces, and drive a large portion of the people to look for relief in a union with the neighboring republic—a union that I for one should regard as the greatest curse that could befall this Canada of ours. (Hear, hear.)
Now, Mr. Speaker, that the measure should be submitted to the country before it is carried out, is a matter that is rendered the more necessary by an article that I will read from the Globe newspaper, which paper is the organ of the Government at the present time, and has always been understood to express the views of the honorable member for South Oxford (Hon. Mr. Brown), now the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown]. It is in reference to the Intercolonial Railway, which so many people now think May he built without detriment to the interests of the country, if we are to have all the benefits supposed to be derivable from this union. Here is what was said by that newspaper when the former negotiations for building the Intercolonial Railway were in progress:—
Upper Canada has not, it appears, suffered enough in the estimation of Upper Canadian members of the Cabinet, from being tied to one poor eastern province—it must have three more added to its already heavy burdens. One legislature is not a sufficiently cumbrous, unwieldy and expensive body, but we must add to it the representatives of three other communities, each section with varying local interests, and all pulling at the same purse. And to show what we may look for in the future, we are to pay four-twelfths of the cost of a railway to unite us to these new allies, and to keep the road running besides.
Truly a charming scheme to be proposed by a retrenchment government—(hear, hear)—whose sole aim was to be the reduction of expenditure and the correction of abuses in administration! Now, burdens of an enormous amount are to be imposed upon the people of Upper Canada, a railway job to be undertaken, likely to be as disastrous and disgraceful as the Grand Trunk, and an already unwieldy political system to be encumbered three-fold; all that Messrs. Sicotte and Sandfield Macdonald may get rid of the difficulties with which their Government is surrounded.
An Hon. Member—What paper is that in?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—The Toronto Globe.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—What is the date?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I do not know the exact date; I find it as an extract in another paper. It was written about two years ago.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Oh! That is out of […]
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[…] date; it does not apply to the altered circumstances of the case.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The extract speaks of that scheme having been proposed by a retrenchment government. It should be remembered that this Government is not a retrenchment government.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I will read another extract from the same paper, of a similar date:—
There is a refreshing coolness in the demand that Canada shall pay for the construction of a road, which is professedly designed to draw away trade from its great estuary. We have been building up the navigation of the St. Lawrence at immense expense, and have had very hard work to compete with the Hudson and Erie canals. According to the views of the late Hon. Mr. Merritt, steamship lines were alone needed to secure the object we desire. The Ministry propose, however, to withdraw the steamships from the St. Lawrence! If this could be done, it would be an act of suicide in Canada to take part in the scheme. As it cannot be done, it is simply an absurdity.
* * * * * *
It may be difficult to escape from pledges given to the representatives of the Lower Provinces, but the members of the Cabinet may rely upon it, that they will have their reward for the abandonment or postponement of the measure in the approbation of their constituents and of the province at large. 
(Hear, hear.) Now, Mr. Speaker, looking at that article, and assuming that the writer of it really was a man who had the interests of the country at heart, and assuming that it expressed the sentiments of the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown], I would like to know what really has taken place within those two years which renders it so absolutely necessary that this road that would have been so disastrous to the interests of Canada, if built at that time, should be commenced now? Is the only change that has taken place the elevation of the editor to a seat at the Executive Council Board?
He found that it would not do for him to coalesce with that very respectable old corruptions who sits alongside of him, and who compared the Upper Canadians to so many codfish in Gaspé Bay, unless he had something as a basis of excuse for the Coalition that would make it look plausible and sound well; and so they got up the idea of a “new nationality,” which was to crush out all former cries and hide from the people of Canada their true interests, by declaring that no matter how extravagant a government may be, if you can get a union of this kind, you can afford to spend your millions annually in excess of your income in the construction and maintenance of a road calculated to injure our trade, and all for the sake of adding to our population some 800,000 inhabitants. (Hear, hear.)
Under these circumstances, it strikes me that before a change so great as this is made—a change that has been condemned and its leading feature, the Intercolonial Railway, so strongly denounced by the Reform press generally of Upper Canada—before such a change as this is made, the people should be consulted. It may be that the reasoning then adopted and given expression to through the columns of the Globe has taken a deep hold upon the minds of the people, and that they have not, like the Hon. President of the Council, obtained the new light which seems to have broken in upon his mind. We are now told—no railway, no union; but if this railway was so complete a curse that it was not to be built when we had only to contribute five-twelfths of the expense, we ought to have some greater reason given than has yet been furnished, why this union should take place, involving as it does the construction of that Intercolonial Railway, at a cost to us of ten-twelfths of the work.
What great difference is there in the circumstances of the country now from what there was then, to make up for the great mischief that the railway was to do if constructs two years ago? The Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] does not choose, to answer these questions. He finds that he has got an excellent body of followers in this House at the present time, who are carried away with the idea that some change is necessary, and they are prepared to run into anything where the Honorable President leads, for the sake of the novelty; for it is said that if you get a little novelty to tickle the people for a season, they may be kept quiet, little heeding the storm that will come after the calm. When this House first met, I observed a great many opponents to this scheme; but somehow or other the opposition of a great many of them very soon subsided. Some people say that several hon. members had axes to grind, and they were only holding on to the handle until they were sure the edge was sharp. (Laughter)
Soon after the meeting of the House, it was observed that the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] had taken a trip around among them, and the next thing we knew they had wheeled right about, Mr. Speaker, […]
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[…] the breath of the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] must have been exceedingly pestilential, for hon. gentlemen who had prepared themselves with speeches of two hours’ duration, on standing up to deliver them, found themselves so weak in the knees that they were only able to stand for a few moments, and what they uttered was totally different from what they had prepared, and all in consequence of the breath of the Hon President of the Council [George Brown]. (Laughter.) From the exceedingly detrimental character of that breath, I would strongly advise my hon. friends to keep at a safe distance, and not allow the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] to come near them, for fear of a similar almost fatal result. (Hear, hear.)
*[Original Editor’s Note: It being six o’clock, the Speaker left the Chair until half-past seven.]
After the recess,
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North],continuing his remarks, said—
When the House rose at six o’clock, I had remarked upon the singular effect the breath of the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] had upon many hon. members of this House; and in connection with this matter, I would like now to observe that there seems to be a practice growing into favor, which, according to my judgment, is deserving of every condemnation. It is for hon. members of the Government to address themselves privately to particular members, and give them reasons for their action, which reasons are not made known generally to the hon. members of this House Now, I understand that every honorable member on the floor of this House represents a portion of the people of the country, and the portion of the people which one represents is as much entitled to consideration and to informed in in possession of the Government as the rest of the people or the constituencies of very other hon. member of the House. If the Government gives to some that information which in certain cases it has not communicated to those hostile to certain measures, it places those hon. members in a false position, makes them act contrary to what they would, perhaps, if all the facts were in their possession, and is a proceeding that is opposed to the best interests of the country. (Hear, hear.)
If reasons were privately given by a Minister to which he withheld from other hon. members of the House, I would think he was endeavoring to deceive me; for, according to his oath of office, he is bound to preserve the secrets of the Cabinet, and if he betrayed them to me, I would conclude that he had some sinister end in view, and was endeavoring to make me proceed in a course contrary to that which would be dictated by my honest convictions. (Hear, hear.)
Now, in reference to the Hon. the President of the Council [George Brown], I had hoped that when he had cried a truce and buried the party hatchet, brushed off his war paint and smoked the pipe of peace with his political enemies—(laughter)—we would have no more misrepresentations going to the country through the medium of the newspaper organ which he wields. I did not expect, therefore, to find that that organ would have devoted a whole column to a humble individual like myself, who happens to express views contrary to those now held by that hon. gentleman. That paper, in referring to the recent debate in this House on the Confederation resolutions, makes an attack on me, by representing that I have betrayed my constituents by acting, as it says, contrary to the pledges I gave them previous to my election.
Now, I presume my constituents know what pledges I did make to them, and it is not necessary that any communications should be made through the channels of the Globe to let them know that I have betrayed those pledges, for they are as well able to judge as that paper whether I violated my promises or not. If any argument I used to justify the position I took in regard to that question was bad, it might have been pointed out; but it was quite unnecessary to tell them that I had broken my pledges, when they were as competent to judge upon that point as anyone else. Yet that is what the organ of the hon. gentleman is doing, showing that the old party leaven leavens the hon. gentleman still, and that all the elements of party discord and strife are just as rampant now in this House as they were before the present Coalition was formed. (Hear.)
Now, the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], in that amusing and interesting scene he had with the hon. member for Carleton [William Powell] the other day, made a declaration which, according to my sense of political morality, is not exactly one that should have been made by a Minister of the Crown holding the position of the hon. gentleman. He declared that it was the bounden duty of the members of his party to follow their leader in all things—not exercising their own judgment in reference to any matter that may come before the House, but submitting […]
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[…] themselves to him, in the belief that when he made any proposition, no matter of what character, he had some good object in view.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—No, no.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—When the motion for the previous question was sprung upon the House, the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] rather rated the honorable member for Carleton [William Powell], because that honorable gentleman chose to express an independent view on the matter, and then he stated that the follower ought always to obey the leader, because it was to be supposed the latter would not take any particular action without having good reasons for it. (Hear, hear.)
Now, it seems to me that we have not been sent to this House by the people to follow the leaders of a party, but to represent the constituencies according to the best judgment we possess; and we are not, I think, required to give up that right of judgment upon all questions that come before this House, to the leader of a party or anybody else, but to exercise it properly ourselves. (Hear, hear.)
The leader of the Government, in introducing any measure, ought to be able to satisfy honorable members of this House of the goodness and wisdom of that measure, and he should not ask or receive support any further than his ability to give such satisfaction. (Hear, hear) The doctrine laid down by the Hon. Attorney General [John A. Macdonald] is, therefore, in my opinion—because it takes away the right of private judgment of honorable members of this House—pernicious and injurious to the best interests of the country.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—In what respect?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—In inducing honorable members of this House to act in any matter contrary to their own judgment, because the leader of the party to which they belong tells them to do so.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—No, no. I did not say that.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I understood the honorable gentleman so, when the honorable member for Carleton [William Powell] and himself had that pleasant altercation the other day; and if that was not his meaning, I am sorry that I imputed it to him. (Hear, hear.) Now, I have contended that this measure of Confederation ought to be submitted to the people before its adoption. I have already given from the Globe newspaper reasons why it should. I do not, sir, bring forward these extracts from that paper for the mere purpose of placing the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] in an awkward and unpleasant position; but my design in doing so is to lead honorable gentlemen to reflect and think upon the probable effect of the votes they may give.
If the Globe newspaper advocated measures formerly which met with the approbation of the people, and if its influence was so wide spread as is asserted, and as it undeniably is, the leaven with which it leavened the country by those articles advocating certain doctrines remains there still, and has not been removed by any new arguments it may now advance. It would be well for honorable gentlemen, therefore, to reflect well before making up their minds that the old leaven of the Globe has gone abroad—has still a hold of the public mind—and may affect them very seriously when they next present themselves at the polls. Now, I will read another extract showing what was the opinion held by the Globe on a subject which is viewed quite differently now by the Hon. President of the Council and the Government:—
We have a debt of seventy millions, and a deficiency of three or four millions, created by undertaking works which have failed to pay any return for the cost of construction. But no enterprise, the burden of which we have assumed, comes anything near the Intercolonial in the poverty of its promised results. It will not secure the profitable settlement of an acre of land; it will not help our trade; it will not pay its own running expenses. * * *
The few barren acres at the east are to get $50,000 a year of our money, while half a continent to the west is to get a few words addressed to the Colonial Minister.
Now, here is the doctrine, in reference to this matter, held by the Globe and the Hon. President of the Council only two years ago; and if these views were correct then they ought to be correct now, and the people should have an opportunity of pronouncing upon them, and saying whether that railway should be built, especially when, under this Confederation scheme, we are to pay upwards of three millions annually for the maintenance of the local governments. If the railway was objectionable then, surely it is more objectionable now, when the annual expenditure in connection with it will be at least double what it would have been had it […]
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[…] been carried out at that time. (Hear, hear.)
Well, perhaps the people will see that this great scheme of Confederation, which has made the lion and the lamb lie down together, as the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] has said, is something that has made them forget that prudent economy that had a large place in the feelings of the people of Upper Canada—a place created, perhaps, chiefly by the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] himself; and if it is true, as that honorable gentleman urged in his paper, it is still more true and essential now that the people should have an opportunity of pronouncing upon it. And, sir, I adopt the view of the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron]—although starting from it, he arrives at somewhat different conclusions from myself—if you force this scheme upon the people without asking for their consent, and if they wake from the apathy which they feel now, to find that they are saddled with burdens which they never contemplated, you make them opponents of the union, and worse opponents than if you asked them now whether they approved of it or not; and so you will have a dissatisfied people laboring under burdens which I fear will eventually create serious discontent throughout the length and breadth of the land. (Hear, hear.)
And there is this additional reason for referring the question to the people, now that the other provinces have rejected the scheme, and I presume their governments will not dare to press it forward in opposition to the wishes of the people. Now, hon. gentlemen opposite, when they introduced this scheme, and said they could suffer no amendments to be made in it, put it on the plea that it was absolutely necessary, to keep faith with the Lower Provinces, that they should carry it in its entirety. I am glad to find that the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] is not so willing and anxious to break faith with those provinces as he was two years ago in reference to one of the essential ingredients to thief scheme—the Intercolonial Railway. (Hear, hear.)
I admire, sir, the principle of keeping faith in any engagement; but I do not think it was necessary, in order to keep faith in this matter, that it should be treated as the Government proposes that this House shall deal with it. All the Government had to do to carry out what it undertook with the governments of the Lower Provinces, was to bring the scheme before Parliament, as those governments have done, and allow Parliament to deal with it as it saw fit. There was no necessity for saying to the House that it must reject it or adopt it in its entirety. All the Government hid to do—its members not being delegates to the Conference chosen by the people at large, nor even appointed by Parliament for that purpose, but going there, as it were, with the tacit understanding on the part of the representatives of the people in this House, to see whether any arrangement of union might be made that would work beneficially for the interests of the whole provinces—all it had to do was to settle upon some plan which it would report to this House for action; but it had no power whatever to bind this Legislature absolutely and irrevocably to the scheme adopted by the Conference, so that it could not dissent from or alter it. (Hear, hear.)
Well, we find honorable gentlemen who advocate this scheme say that it is not a perfect measure, that it is not what any one of the provinces would desire or accept of itself, but that it is necessary to have this patch-work of a Constitution, because there are difficulties which it is necessary to get over and remove; and yet, while it is admitted to be imperfect, to tell us that we should not have an opportunity of saying whether its provisions are right or wrong, is, to my mind, to insult the intelligence of this House, and to commit a wrong which I think honorable gentlemen will have cause to regret hereafter. (Hear, hear.)
Many honorable gentlemen have advocated this measure with great warmth, with a feeling of earnestness and truthfulness, and with what I believe to be a sincerely patriotic desire to accomplish something that will work for the best interests of this country.
There is, for instance, the hon. member for South Lanark (Mr. Morris), who years ago, in one of those day-dreams of youth which most of us experience, conceived the idea that a union of these provinces would be exceedingly beneficial to the people of all of them; and having got that idea somewhat in advance of his fellowmen, he thought that it was absolutely necessary for our prosperity that it should be worked out; but he forgets that in order to secure its smooth working it is necessary to have perfect joints to the machinery, and instead of getting that which will work well for the people, he gets that which has the name oily of union, and few indeed of its advantages. If that honorable gentleman had his choice, he would no doubt have chosen something strong and stable, and not […]
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[…] something delusive and perishable; for, as the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] and other honorable members who advocate this measure say, it is only a temporary expedient to tide us over our difficulties—a scheme of union to serve for the present, and not intended to endure for all time. (Hear, hear.) We are not, in fact, building up the frame-work of a Constitution that is to stand for ever, but something that we will have to tinker up from time to time, till we at length succeed either in destroying it altogether or making it a passably fair erection. (Hear, hear.)
It appears to me, sir, that when this country was given responsible government—when the people of Canada were taught the lesson that they were henceforth to exercise the right of thinking for themselves—it is a sort of rude interference with that right when a certain number of gentlemen from Canada enter into a contract with certain other gentlemen from the Lower Provinces—thirty-three in number altogether—sign that contract, and then declare that the representatives of the people in these provinces shall first he bound by it, that the people themselves shall next be bound by it, that neither representatives nor people shall have the power to alter or amend it, and then that if we do insist upon our right to alter it, we shall be thrown back into that state of difficulty which has been held up by some honorable gentlemen as a bug-bear to frighten us into submission, the country being represented as having been bordering on revolution, into which it would assuredly be thrown if this measure were not accepted in its entirety. (Hear, hear.)
I think that this proposal will not go down—that it will not meet with that full acceptance which honorable gentlemen imagine. The people have too much intelligence to intrust the arrangement of so important a subject as this, which so intimately affects their future prosperity and happiness, to the hands of any set of men, however able and talented they may be; and if this scheme is carried without giving the people a chance of pronouncing their opinion, honorable gentlemen will be told, when they go back to their constituents, that the people have rights to be respected, that they like to be consulted about the character of the Constitution under which they are to live, and that before it is adopted finally, they like to have a word to say in regard to it, as well as those who assume to speak for them.
Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—They have a word to say. They say ditto to our action. (Hear, hear.)
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Well, I should like them to have a full opportunity of saying ditto or not as they pleased, and I fancy if they had, the ditto would not be as strong as honorable gentlemen opposite seem to think. (Hear, hear.)
I have been told that I have violated my pledges in opposing this scheme, and that my constituents sent me here because they thought me to be in favor of it. Well, I have that yet to learn from them; for I have heard no complaint from them against my action, and have had one letter fully approving of it, and it so happens that it was written by a warm friend of the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] in the old time. (Hear, hear.)
I am not aware that the people anywhere approve of the scheme and say ditto to it, as the Honorable Minister of Agriculture [Thomas D’Arcy McGee] tells us; and when the next election takes place, I presume we will have the ditto in some shape. Now, the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] may think that I have some personal feeling against himself.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Not at all.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—If the honorable gentleman does think that I am actuated by personal motives in my strictures upon him, he is very much mistaken. I have not the slightest personal feeling against him; and as far as I personally am concerned, he may remain in the Ministry and work through with his colleagues just as long as he can, and I promise he will find no factious opposition from me. (Hear, hear.) If I understand myself at all, I desire to promote the interests and advance the prosperity of my country; but I do not believe those interests or that prosperity advanced by the adoption of this scheme. (Hear, hear.) I believe a scheme of union could be devised which would be serviceable to all of these provinces, but I do not believe that Confederation is that scheme.
I do not think it is desirable to adopt this, and then trust to the chance of obtaining a change afterwards. Honorable gentlemen from Lower Canada are only postponing the time when they will stand like other men in the community, having voice for voice with the rest, and nothing more. But if we change the Constitution now, is it wise or prudent to make the change only of such a character as to require future amendment, and give rise to future agitation? And is it not better that we should endeavor to make the Constitution […]
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[…] right in the first instance? (Hear, hear.) And as there are elements by which a union of the provinces could be formed that would be lasting, and that would serve the best interests of this country, honorable gentlemen on the Treasury benches would have better shown their patriotism by waiting a little longer to accomplish it.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—Accomplish what?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—A legislative union of these provinces.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I thought my hon. friend knew that every man in Lower Canada was against it, every man in New Brunswick, every man in Nova Scotia, every man in Newfoundland, and every man in Prince Edward Island. How, then, is it to be accomplished?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I did not understand anything of the kind; but I did understand that it was asserted here that that feeling existed in the Lower Provinces. I do understand, moreover, that there are enough members on the floor of this House—in the Parliament now assembled—who are ready and willing to give us representation by population.
William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary]—Why have they not said so?
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Because an opportunity has not been given them to do so. And I think I can show that the people of the Lower Provinces are in favor of a Legislative union, rather than a Federal union—(hear, hear)—for they appointed delegates to meet at Charlottetown for the purpose of establishing a Legislative union among themselves.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The hon. gentleman is, no doubt, sincere in the opinion he expresses. It is true there was a union of the
Maritime Provinces proposed, but it was not stated what kind of union it was to be.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Well, all the sentiments and feeling I have seen expressed on the subject leads me to the conclusion that it was a legislative union they proposed; and when the delegates to the Quebec Conference spoke to their constituents, they put forward the idea that a legislative union would have been better than the one proposed At any rate this scheme has been rejected in one of the provinces, and if carried into operation, it will have to be forced upon the people of one or other of the provinces. Well, if you are going to force a Constitution upon any part of the people, it would be better to force upon them that which would, according to your own expressed opinion, be better and of greater service to the country than the scheme under consideration. (Hear, hear)
The people of Lower Canada presented the appearance of being against representation by population; they thought that it would be the annihilation of their peculiar institutions—that by its adoption their laws would be interfered with, their language extinguished, and their religion destroyed; and yet how readily did they concede the principle in this Confederation scheme. They granted representation by population in the Lower House of the Federal Legislature. (Hear, hear.) And why had they done so? Because, they say, under the Local Government our local affairs and interests will be safe in our own keeping—our laws will be safe, our language will be safe, our religion will be safe. Now, if they were assured that all these interests would be equally as safe and well protected under any form of government that might be chosen for the good of the whole country, can any hon. gentleman assume to say that they would be opposed to that form of government? (Hear, hear.)
It is well to understand that hon. gentlemen representing Lower Canada constituencies and the people of Lower Canada have been educated to fear aggression on the part of Upper Canada, especially if representation by population were granted; and they have been so educated in consequence of the manner in which the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown], his organ, and the organs of his party, have agitated that question in times past; but when the people of Lower Canada understand that there is an opportunity of conceding that which they have hitherto refused, and at the same time of securing the enjoyment of those rights and privileges which they all hold dear, I cannot believe that they will longer oppose that which all of them cannot fail to see must come sooner or later. (Hear, hear.)
They must see that it is better for them to make terms now when they may; for I apprehend that they would not carry their resistance to a just principle to the length of a revolution; for it is quite clear that they could not be successful in any such movement, or set themselves up as an independent power in this country, while Upper Canada and the other provinces remain a part of the British possessions; nor could they become a part of the United […]
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[…] States, for under that government their laws, their language and their religion would be far less secure than they would be if the government were entirely in the hands of Upper Canada. I feel satisfied, therefore, that hon. gentlemen from Lower Canada would have yielded representation by population, if it had been shown to them by the representatives of Upper Canada that they could accept of no change which would increase our difficulties and add to the burdens we have to bear, as this scheme does; for that was the charge made over and over again at the polls in Upper Canada, that we were laboring under heavy burdens which had been cast upon us by successive governments, owing to the influence of the Lower Provinces. (Hear, hear.)
Sir, I cannot conceive it to be possible that anybody of men sent here by the people under the Constitution will make changes in that Constitution which were not contemplated by those who sent thorn here, without submitting those changes first to the people. They have not been agitated at the pulls, and the people seem to think that they should be considered, and there is an apathy amongst them that does not prove that they are well disposed towards the scheme. It is true that the boast is made that they are all in favor of it, and a recent meeting at Toronto is pointed to as showing what their feeling is upon the subject. Well, of course, the hon. member for Lambton [Alexander Mackenzie] and the hon. member for Kent [Archibald McKellar] were at that meeting, and they said, and no doubt believed that those who composed that meeting were very distinguished individuals. (Laughter.)
And because these distinguished individuals were present, and resolutions were carried in favor of Confederation, then it was at once assumed that the whole country was in favor of the scheme. But it ought to be recollected that that meeting was got up by a number of young men—talented and able young men, no doubt, but still young and enthusiastic—associated together to form or reorganize a Reform association, and that it was attended only by them and those friendly to them and their views, and not by the citizens of Toronto, assembled for the purpose of determining whether the scheme should be adopted or not. It cannot be assumed, therefore, that a meeting of that kind truly reflected the opinion of the people of Toronto; nor would this conclusion be arrived at when it is remembered that when a gentleman got up and moved that the scheme of Confederation should be submitted to the people, he was laughed at. Is it likely that if the meeting was not composed entirely of those in favor of Confederation, a proposition of that kind would be received with a laugh? (Hear, hear.)
And if you read the reports of the speeches delivered at that meeting, you will find that hardly anything was said at all in reference to the true merits of the scheme, but that there was a great deal of that “highfaluting” talk which you hear in this House about the great and glorious results that this scheme is to bring forth. (Hear, hear.) As to its probable actual working and the benefits it will confer upon the people, or as to its disadvantages, there was not a word spoken in sober language, and in this House you find hon. gentlemen debating in just the same extravagant style as was exhibited at that meeting. (Hear, hear.)
William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary]—I have understood from the several speeches delivered by the hon. gentleman upon this subject that he feels quite convinced that a legislative union would be better, and that he would vote for it.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Yes.
William McDougall [Lanark North, Provincial Secretary]—Well, then, I should like to know what authority he would have to vote for that rather than a Federal union, and from what he draws the inference that the people are in favor of it? (Hear, hear.)
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—When I said I would vote for a legislative union, I did not say I was ready to adopt it without submitting it to the people. (Hear, hear.) Now, it has been said that the Lower Provinces are not in favor of and would not accept a legislative union. A hon. friend has just put in my hand a report of a speech delivered by Dr. Tupper of Nova Scotia, in which that gentleman expresses himself in favor of a legislative union.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I suppose it is exceedingly likely that at a meeting held in Halifax to consider a union of the Maritime Provinces, the people of that city were in favor of a legislative union, because Halifax was to be the capital, the central place of the proposed union, the other provinces giving up their individuality. I have no doubt that there may be some in all the provinces who are in favor of a Legislative rather than a Federal union.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Now, in the correspondence laid before this House on […]
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[…] the subject of a union of the Maritime Provinces, the words used, as I recollect them, were a “Legislative union,” and you do not find that the people of those provinces desired a Federal rather than a Legislative, union. In the correspondence laid before the House on the subject, I think that the words used are those of a Legislative union. You do not find the words “Federal union” in it; and I think that is the kind of union which those gentlemen who desired the best interests of this country ought to have striven to have had.
But because some fifteen or sixteen gentlemen, who pitched up this Constitution with so many discordant elements in it, did not choose to give it to us is no reason why we should not have it. All that we desired was that we should have a strong government, and they should have been satisfied to have gone on with toil government of the country without any change. (Hear, hear.) But hon. gentlemen who were brought together in this Coalition had said so many hard things of each other, that it was found necessary to make people forget these by putting before them some great scheme, and I hope it will be a lesson to the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] not to say such hard things of people in future. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to discuss the motion proposed by the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron]; I merely desire to explain to Lower Canadian members that the object of that motion is to ask that any measure passed by the Imperial Government may not be put in force in Canada without being submitted to the people of this province. Those who are of opinion that the Legislature ought not to pass a measure of such importance—which is nothing short of a revolution in our Constitution—those who consider the measure of sufficient importance to induce them not to ask England to carry out that revolution without consulting the people must vote in favor of this motion. (Hear, hear.) Even supposing that the people were in favor of Confederation, it would still be of great advantage to submit the question to the electors.
The question is not yet understood. The newspapers have said, on the one hand, that it was a good measure, and on the other that it was a bad one; but in reality there has been no serious discussion, and it is perfectly clear that the people are not yet acquainted with it. (Hear, hear.)
Members of this House undertake a very serious responsibility in voting for this measure without consulting the people; and the advantage of an appeal to their electors—oven supposing the result to be favorable to the scheme—would be to relieve them of that responsibility. (Hear, hear.) And if the measure be neither understood nor approved of by the people, you run the risk, by voting it in that position, of creating prejudices which would perhaps be removed by discussion. Therefore, in the interest of the measure itself, as well as of honorable members of this House, it ought to be submitted to the people before it is finally voted, and for my part I shall vote for the amendment of the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron]. (Hear, hear.)
François Evanturel [Quebec County]—I should like to ask my friend the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion], and all the honorable members of the Opposition, who constantly repeat that Confederation is now defunct, and that we have nothing more to do but to bury it, why they desire to submit it to the people? I fail to see the necessity, if it be true that the scheme is already defunct. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—My answer is, that we desire that it should be submitted to the people, in order to show that it is unpopular. The hon. member thought to place me in a dilemma, but he was mistaken. He thinks the measure will be passed in England as it stands at present, and it is to avoid that contingency that we desire an appeal to the people.
François Evanturel [Quebec County]—No, no.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—The hon. member for Quebec [François Evanturel] is then in hopes that it may be amended?
François Evanturel [Quebec County]—I do not believe it will be passed in England as it now stands.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—Well, if it can be amended in England to our advantage, it may also be modified in a contrary sense. But that is not the question. I say that we ought to submit it to the people, in order that if the verdict should be favorable to the measure, it may go to the Imperial Government with the sanction of the people and of Parliament; and if the people are opposed to the scheme, the delegates must not be left in a position to say that public opinion in Canada is favorable to the measure. (Hear, hear.)
Paul Denis [Beauharnois]—I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the fears of the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] are entirely unfounded. In order that an appeal to the people may be of use, […]
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[…] the scheme should be known as a whole, for how could the people form a sound judgment if we were to lay before them only a vague plan of Confederation, that is to say, the resolutions as they stand at present, unless they were also put in possession of the constitution of the local governments, and all the other details of the measure which most deeply interest them, and with which they are entitled to be made acquainted? Let us wait until the plan is known, and the people will be consulted when the proper time comes. (Hear, hear.)
Jean-Baptiste-Éric Dorion [Drummond & Arthabaska]—Really, Mr. Speaker, if the honorable member for Beauharnais meant what he said, he has given us something new. But I do not believe he is really serious when he tells us that we should wait until the constitutions of the local governments are submitted to us, before judging of the merits of the resolutions now before us. However, supposing him to be perfectly in earnest, and that he had no intention of trifling, as he sometimes does, does he fancy for one moment that we are going to accept the reasons he brings forward to induce us to vote against an appeal to the people? If so, he is very much mistaken. (Hear, hear.) I can easily understand that he is embarrassed, and that he should shield himself even under weak arguments in voting against the motion in amendment, for he promised at two electoral meetings to vote for an appeal to the people. (Hear, hear.)
He says he will not vote for an appeal to the people, because he is not acquainted with the details of the measure; but why, then, does he vote on the main motion without knowing these details? He knows that the Government have told us that we must vote Confederation before they bring down the constitution of the local governments, and that they intended going to England to secure the new Constitution, without submitting to us the plan of the local constitutions. It will be too late when the delegates return, and after England has given us a new Constitution, to submit the present resolutions to the people. (Hear, hear.) And if we can judge here of this grand scheme of Confederation—as the hon. member says—without having before us the details of the organization of the local governments, why should not the people, in like manner, be afforded an opportunity of recording their opinion of the scheme? The reasons advanced by the honorable member are utterly futile. (Hear, hear.)
Thomas Gibbs [Ontario South]—Before the vote is taken on this motion, I feel it to be my duty to make a few remarks explanatory of the vote I intend to give. When I addressed the House the other evening, I stated that I had given a pledge to my constituents that when the motion came up in this House for submitting the scheme of a union of the Provinces of British North America to the people of this province, I would feel it to be my duty to vote for it. The language I used was something like this, that although I was in favor of the Federation of the British North American Provinces, yet that as the measure was to affect not only those now inhabiting these provinces, but others to follow us, I would insist upon it that the question should be submitted to the people before going into effect, while upon the canvass in my riding, I stated that I looked upon the resolutions submitted in the light of the basis of an agreement that might have been entered into by a number of individuals desirous of going into a partnership, which no one could alter without the consent of the others.
I was, therefore, not at all surprised to hear the Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], at the opening of the discussion, say that we could not change that treaty, that we must vote on it in this way—either accept or reject it as a whole. It was said that if the people sent me to the House as their representative, I would be found voting for their resolutions as they were, without seeking to amend them in any respect. Although I believed that the resolutions would be presented and pressed as they stood, I did not believe that no amendment would ever be made to them; and although the Parliament of Canada has been told that it cannot alter the scheme, I am not without hope that when the delegation proceeds to England, certain necessary amendments will be introduced by the Government of Great Britain. Now, sir, I consider that to a certain extent the members opposed to the details of the scheme, but who are disposed to favor the general principle, have put their political consciences in the hands of the honorable gentlemen on the Treasury benches; therefore I am in hopes that the resolutions will not pass into law exactly in the shape in which they have been presented to this House.
Being sent here to represent the people, and feeling the matter to be a very important one, affecting very materially the Constitution under which they live, I consider it my duty to vote for such an amendment as that which has been submitted by the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron]. I was strengthened in that view of the case by the words of Lord Durham on the subject o […]
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[…] the union of Upper and Lower Canada. The noble lord had recommended the adoption of a general legislative union of all the British North American Provinces, and also the submission of the question to the people of those provinces for their approval. He said, “But the state of the lower province, though it justifies the proposal of an union, would not, I think, render it gracious or even just on the part of Parliament, to carry it into effect without referring it to the ample deliberation and consent of the people of those colonies.” Now, sir, I take it that what is alluded to here is the consent of the legislatures of those provinces. If this House should be dissolved, and the measure passed in England be of a permissive character, it would, when returned, either be accepted or rejected by the House, and in the meantime the constituencies could be consulted in reference to it. (Hear, hear.)
The necessity for this has been proved by some of the remarks which have been made by honorable gentlemen who have addressed the House on the subject. Several honorable members, who advocated the measure, stated that they had already placed it before their constituents, and that they had their endorsement in voting for it as they intended to do. That is right as far as it goes, but it only shows that these honorable gentlemen deemed it necessary to take that course and consult their constituents, thus fortifying themselves by securing beforehand their approval. (Hear, hear.)
It is said that doctors disagree, but I think the same may be said of lawyers; for we find the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] saying that it would be unconstitutional to take the course advocated by the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron]. But I concur rather in the mode of appeal to the people proposed by the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron], “yea” or “nay,” than in that of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron]. The principle has been acknowledged by the Parliament of Canada, and it has been introduced into our county councils, so far that any sum exceeding $20,000 cannot be levied without the consent of the people having been first obtained.
I believe that we should support Federation, or the fears entertained by many may be realized, that its rejection may have a tendency towards annexation. I did not hesitate to give my adhesion to the resolutions of the Conference, believing as I do that their adoption is calculated to benefit these provinces, and also to strengthen the connection between this country and Great Britain. My attachment to British institutions is not mere sentiments, but a principle which has grown with my growth and strengthened with my strength. (Hear, hear.)
I fear if this scheme be not adopted, and matters continue as at present—let the just rights of Upper Canada be denied her—let the Reciprocity treaty be abrogated—we may hear a cry throughout the province that will alarm if not astonish us. One thing has struck me as rather singular in passing through the country—that not one individual whose proclivities were supposed to be in favor of American institutions had expressed himself as in favor of the scheme now before the House. I look upon that as a strong argument in its favor. As I have already stated, sir, although I am in favor of the measure, I think it but right that it should be submitted to the people, for their approval, before being carried into effect, and therefore I deem it my duty to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron]. (Hear, hear.)
George Jackson [Grey]—I have only a word or two to say, Mr. Speaker, before the vote is taken on this motion. I cannot reconcile the conduct of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] in voting that an Address should be presented to Her Majesty in favor of the scheme, and then move to have it submitted to the people. The honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] has made out a case for the resolutions which have been adopted by this House. He stated that the people of Upper Canada were in favor of it; he has no objection to it himself; it nets with his hearty concurrence. I can easily conceive how my honorable friend from North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] can vote for this resolution; but I cannot understand how an honorable gentleman can vote that an Address shall be presented to the Queen, asking Her Majesty to submit the scheme to the Imperial Legislature, and, after that has been voted, turn round and vote that the scheme should be submitted to the people. I cannot understand that. If I voted for the motion now before the House, I should think I was acting in opposition to the vote I gave before. (Hear, hear.)
I stated the other evening that my constituents were in favor of the House adopting this measure, and that they did not consider an appeal to the people necessary. In accordance with their decision I gave my vote, and I shall now vote in opposition to the motion of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron]. If it was necessary, I think I could show to the House that if were submitted to the people, side issues would be raised, irrelevant altogether to the main question, in order to […]
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[…] promote some local object or interest, and we would have no united expression of opinion. I think that every honorable gentleman who supported the resolutions must vote in opposition to the motion of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron]. (Hear, hear.)
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I do not rise to detain the House from the division beyond a very few minutes. But I think it would not be desirable that the debate should close without a few words from this part of the House. And first, a word with reference to the speech of the honorable member for North Ontario (Mr. M.C. Cameron). That honorable gentleman, in the course of his remarks, said he had no personal feeling towards myself. I quite believe that, and I am entirely willing that the honorable gentleman should enjoy all the little relief he evidently obtains from his fierce assaults on myself and the Hon. Provincial Secretary (Hon. Mr. McDougall).
I do not think that any of the other remarks of the honorable gentleman require notice—(laughter)—as they were only a repetition of what had frequently come from other honorable members in the previous part of this debate. But as regards the honorable member for Peel (Hon. J. Hillyard Cameron), I do say that anything more extraordinary than the line of argument he took up here to-night, I never heard from any hon. member of this House. What was the position taken by the hon. gentleman from Peel [John Cameron]? He commenced by saying that justice to Upper Canada required the granting of parliamentary reform, and that this scheme gave that measure of justice to Upper Canada.
He said the province must be defended; that the question of the defence of this province was the most urgent and the most important question we had to consider at this moment, and that this measure provided the best way of meeting that question of defence. He said that the threatened abolition of reciprocity with the United States required to be met—that the best interests of this province would be imperilled by the repeal of the Reciprocity treaty—and that he conceived that this measure supplied the very best way of meeting that difficulty. He said also that we cannot go on as we are—that it was quite impossible that the state of things which has existed in Canada could continue—that there must be a change—and he conceived that what was proposed by this measure was a most desirable change. He said we had but one of two alternatives—a dissolution of the union, or the adoption of the Federal principle—and that for his part he considered that a dissolution of the union was the last thing to be adopted, and that the Federal system is the best remedy that can be applied under our particular circumstances.
John Cameron [Peel]—I said I preferred the legislative union.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—At any rate, the honorable gentleman voted in the constitutional committee for a Federal union, and signed the report in favor of it, as the only measure that could be carried, and as one desirable to be carried.
John Cameron [Peel]—After having voted first for the legislative union.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I cannot speak as to that. Then the honorable gentleman went on to say that on all these grounds this measure commended itself “to every true lover of his country.” Yet, after having passed this high eulogium on the measure, what does he say? Why, that he won’t have it now—that he won’t have it until it has been sent to the country, and the opinion of the electors has been obtained upon it! He says there is danger of annexation to the United States if these difficulties are not met—that annexation is hanging over us—that this measure will deliver us from that dire fate—and yet he is not prepared to apply the remedy now! And what are the reasons of the honorable gentleman for refusing to give effect to a measure of which he professes to be so enamoured? Does he, like the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron], deny the power of Parliament to pass such a measure? Not at all; he admits we have full power to pass it.
Does he personally entertain any doubt as to the benefit from passing it now? On the contrary, he is enthusiastically for the measure, and declares that he would vote for it, just as it stands, as an elector at the polls. Does he want delay? On the contrary, he demands that the measure shall be urged on with all speed. (Hear, hear.)
He says the sooner the members of Government are in England the better for the people of Canada—that this question of Federation, and the question of defence, and the question of American reciprocity, should be urged on the British Government without one hour’s unnecessary delay. He protests that on the fate of this measure some of the most vital interests of the province depend, and yet ho will not have it until months of valuable time have been lost, until the country has been forced to pass through all the turmoil and […]
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[…] confusion and uncertainty of a general election, and until a new Parliament has been summoned and given its sanction to the measure. And the most curious part of it is, the honorable gentleman does not want the appeal now—he will take it by and by.
John Cameron [Peel]—My argument was entirely the contrary. I said there should not be a day’s delay in appealing to the country; that as the Government had told us they were to meet Parliament in July, there would be no reason to prevent this Parliament being dissolved, and a new Parliament being summoned by that time.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Yes; but the honorable gentleman most inconsistently told us in the same breath that the deputation of Ministers must go at once to England. Does he fancy a general election would be brought on during the absence from the country of the leading members of the Administration? If he does, I tell him he is mistaken. But does the honorable gentleman pretend there is any doubt as to the feeling of the people of Canada on this measure? Not at all. On the contrary, he is quite confident that if submitted to the people there would be a vast majority in its favor—a complete sweep over the country. Nay, strange enough, he gives this very fact of the certainty of approval as the chief argument in favor of an election. He says, “Send it to the people; there is no fear of the result. The very men who now sit here to-day, or others who think as they do, will come back and adopt it!” Could anything more absurd than this be imagined? Is not the argument clearly in the opposite direction? Should not the honorable gentleman have said—”The people approve of this measure; their representatives approve of it; if you had an election, the same men would be sent back, or others like them; a vast sum would be uselessly expended; much valuable time would be lost; partisan broils might be revived; don’t, then, lose a moment, but put it through at once.” (Cheers.)
But I confess the honorable gentleman did suggest one argument in favor of an appeal to the people, and a very strange one it certainly was coming from such a quarter. The hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] says he has not a doubt as to the feelings of the people of Upper Canada; he is quite certain that an almost unanimous verdict would be rendered by them in favor of this measure. But he says he has some doubts as to what the people of Lower Canada might think about it; they might possibly like to give the measure a death-blow, and he is in favor of giving them a chance to do it!
Now, sir, I did think that a very peculiar style of argument from one so enamoured of this measure, and from one, too, who has been supposed not to be very closely allied with the majority of Lower Canadians on matters of public policy, and especially on this particular question. (Hear, hear.)
Who could have expected to find the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] assuming the rôle of an exponent of popular feeling in Lower Canada, and constituting himself the guardian of the rights of the French-Canadians? (Hear, hear.) It did strike me that the honorable gentleman might very properly have left the Lower Canadians to speak for themselves. (Hear, hear.)
In view of the vote recorded on this measure at our last sitting—considering the fact that a majority of twelve on the Lower Canada vote was then recorded in favor of the measure, I do think the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] might have been well content to accept the votes of Lower Canadian representatives as the best index to Lower Canadian feeling. (Hear, hear.)
There were three Lower Canada members absent, on Saturday morning, from the division; but had they been here, there would have been a majority of thirteen on the Lower Canada vote in favor of the measure.
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—No; Messrs. Dunkin, Abbott and Daoust would have voted against it.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I believe Mr. Daoust and the Hon. Mr. Abbott have declared in favor of Confederation. Mr. Dunkin would probably have voted against it. As for the honorable member for Argenteuil (Hon. Mr. Abbott), I see he is now in his place, and can answer for himself. With Mr. Dunkin voting against the measure, there would have been a Lower Canada majority of thirteen in its favor. (Hear, hear.)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The hon. member for Argenteuil [John Abbott] would have voted against it.
Cries of “Ask himself!” and laughter.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The honorable gentleman is of ago, and can speak for himself. I could not pay him such a poor compliment as to fancy for a moment that he could vote against this measure. I have no doubt he would have voted on the right side. (Hear, hear.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I am sure he would, but not with you. (Laughter.)
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Ah! repeat that in the face of that Lower Canada majority of thirteen, and a French-Canadian majority of […]
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[…] five, the one argument of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] in demanding the turmoil and delay and expense of a general election was his tenderness as to the feelings of the Lower Canadians. (Hear, hear.)
And yet, sir, the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] has seen the sort of agitation that is being carried on against this measure in Lower Canada; he has heard the way in which petitions against it have been concocted in this character, and sent broadcast over this country with urgent entreaties to have them signed by men, women and children; he has seen these petitions come back here with hardly a genuine signature appended to them; he has heard the arguments and the cries on which this agitation has been based. (Hear, hear.)
I ask him if it is to aid and strengthen such an agitation against this measure that he demands a general election? I ask him if there has been one argument against the scheme which, in his opinion, supplied any reasonable foundation for the agitation sought to be excited in Lower Canada; if there has been one cry attempted to be raised against it that honestly went to the true merits of the question? If there has been, I have yet to hear it. (Hear, hear.)
But, Mr. Speaker, the most curious part of the proposal of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] is the attitude he would have us occupy in addressing the Queen. We have already adopted an Address praying Her Majesty to pass an Imperial Statute giving effect to the resolutions of the Quebec Conference; and the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] now asks that we shall pass a second Address praying that the said Imperial Act shall be subject to the approval, and shall not be law until it obtains the approval, of their high mightinesses the one hundred and thirty gentlemen who may happen to sit in the House of Assembly of the next Canadian Parliament. (Hear, hear.)
He would have us approach the Throne saying—”May it please Your Majesty—Here is the Constitution which has been adopted by the Governments of the five British American Provinces; we declare to you that this is the new Constitution we want for British America; we pray Your Majesty to give effect to it; we pray that the Imperial Parliament may pass an act enforcing this new Constitution on all these provinces, and that Your Majesty will assent to it. But at the same time we ask Your Majesty to do this only on one condition, namely, that the Legislature of Canada—not the present one, but the next Legislature that may be chosen—shall have the opportunity of criticising and dissecting the work of the Imperial Parliament, and of kicking Your Majesty’s Bill out of the chamber on the first day it meets.” (Hear, hear, and great laughter.)
The hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] will permit me to tell him that if he fancies this would be a decorous mode of approaching the Sovereign, he has a strange idea of the respect due from loyal subjects to the chief magistrate of the Empire which it is their happiness to form a part. (Hear, hear.) And I further tell this honorable gentleman and any other honorable member who may think with him, that if they expect honorable gentlemen to go to the Imperial Government and say—”We ask you to take all the trouble of preparing this measure—to assume it as your own—and to carry it through both Houses of Parliament against all opposition; but at the same time we ask you to put in a clause that the Legislature of Canada shall be above the Imperial Parliament, shall be above the Sovereign, and shall deal with your Act just as it pleases,”—then, I tell the House that parties must be found to convey that message, who are destitute of self-respect, and who have not a proper sense of the respect due to those holding the highest dignities of the realm. (Cheers.)
I do say that a more direct insult to the Crown could not be offered than that now proposed by the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron]. But another most singular part of the proposal of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron], is that while he is trying to pass this vote of want of confidence in the Government—for if it is not that, it would, if carried, be at least a direct defeat of the policy of the Government—he professes at the same moment an immense desire to strengthen the hands of the Administration. (Hear, hear.) He fancies, or professes to fancy, that if this motion of his were carried, the Government would take their dose placidly, and go meekly to England with the record of their defeat in their hands. He tells us in effect,—”I don’t want you, notwithstanding this vote, to hesitate about going to England—not at all. Your presence is wanted in England as quickly as possible.
You ought to go immediately; you ought to talk strongly to the Imperial Government; you ought to tell them how they are to settle the defence question, how the reciprocity question, and so on. You must speak for the people of Canada in a bold and firm tone, that will do justice to the people of this country.” It is the honorable gentleman’s idea that we should go very strong to England, and his way of strengthening us is by passing upon […]
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[…] our policy a direct vote of censure the hour before we start. (Hear, hear.) He wants us to go home strong—with an Address to the Sovereign in one hand, and a defeat by the people’s representatives in the other. (Hear, hear.)
If the hon. gentleman thinks he is sustaining the Administration by his present motion, I can only say that I for one do not thank him for his support. (Hear, hear.) The hon. gentleman may carry his resolution if he can, but I tell him that in that case no mission will go to England with any such insulting message from this Government as now constituted. (Hear, hear.)
The House may perfectly comprehend that if any Address is to be carried to the Queen by the present Government, it must be the Address we have submitted to Parliament. The hon. member for North Ontario (Mr. M.C. Cameron) says that we are attempting to dictate to the House—that we are endeavoring to take away from them the rightful powers of the members of this Legislature. We do nothing of the kind. The members of the Legislature may act as they deem right; they may reject our Address, or amend it, or couple it with anything they please—all we say is, that we cannot be the bearers of a message shaped in the way the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] proposes. But if this House says there shall be an appeal to the people, it will get an appeal to the people at once—to-morrow—(hear, hear)—and that without the mockery of going home to the Imperial Government with an Address asking in one breath that the bill may be passed into law, and in the nest that it may not be passed into law. (Hear, hear.)
The hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] has said that the legislatures of the other provinces have gone, or are going, to the people—and why not we? The hon. gentleman ought to know that the other legislatures were in a different position from that which we occupied. As regards the New Brunswick Legislature, its term expired, I think, in May—they had not been for four years before their constituents—they were going soon at any rate, and they came to the conclusion that it was well to go at once. And so also it was in Newfoundland—the period when a dissolution must take place was rapidly approaching, and they took the same course. The honorable gentleman says that if the Legislature of Nova Scotia do not approve of the resolutions, the Government will advise a dissolution. So probably would we under such circumstances.
If this Legislature had not approved of the scheme, we would undoubtedly, with His Excellency’s assent, have appealed to the country against the decision of this House. And otherwise what necessity is there for a direct appeal to the people? Here we have been discussing the question for years—
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Oh! oh!
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The honorable gentleman may cry “Oh! oh!” but I tell him that the people throughout the country generally understand this question just as well as the members of the Legislature. Those who are most difficult to be made to understand are those who don’t want to understand. Even the honorable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] once understood this question, and if he does not now it is because he has forgotten it. (Laughter.)
If there were any doubt about public feeling, there might be propriety in going to the people. But is there any doubt about it? I am not opposing the honorable gentleman’s resolution on constitutional grounds. I am not denying the rights of the people; if I had any doubt whatever about what would be the verdict of the people, I should be the first to say that we ought to go to the people. But it is simply because I am satisfied there would be a sweeping verdict of the people in favor of the measure, that I think it unnecessary to take it to the country. What would be the verdict of the people may be judged from what has been the vote of their representatives here, who are responsible to them. Never has there been such a verdict in this Parliament on any matter of grave importance as we have had in favor of this measure—in the Upper House a majority of three to one, and in the Lower House also a majority as nearly as possible of three to one.
And of the six honorable members who were absent from the vote—the Speaker, and the five honorable members who were absent—five would have gone for it and only one against it—the House being divided, 94 for to 36 against. And as regards those 36, more than one-half of them have risen in this House and declared themselves in favor of the general principle, and only opposed to some of the details. I say there never has been such a unanimous verdict from any Parliament in favor of any great constitutional change. And since the policy of the Government has been announced, no fewer than 50 out of our 130 constituencies have been appealed to by elections, for the one House or the other—and in the whole of these, only four candidates offered themselves in opposition to this policy, and but two got elected—and I think one of those two did actually vote […]
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[…] in favor of the measure. (Hear, hear.) I am told that the hon. member for South Wentworth (Mr. Rymal) made a statement to which I would call his attention—as I certainly did not notice that he made it—while addressing the House. I was remarking that I had not heard one member from Upper Canada declare that a large majority of his constituents were not in favor of this measure, and I was told that the hon. member had stated so with reference to his constituents.
Joseph Rymal [Wenworth South]—I did not say whether they were or were not in favor of the measure. I believe there is a great diversity of opinion among them.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Ah! Well, Mr. Speaker, we have two hon. gentlemen, one in this House and one in the other, who have just come from their elections—one from the city of Hamilton, situated in the county (South Wentworth) represented by the hon. gentleman (Mr. Rymal), and the other from the Legislative Council district, which includes the constituency of the hon. gentleman (Mr. Rymal)—and both of them declare that they have not the slightest doubt as to the feeling of their constituents—that it is strongly in favor of the measure. I repeat, then, that I have not as yet heard one hon. member declare that his constituency was opposed to this scheme.
Joseph Rymal [Wenworth South]—With reference to the testimony of the hon. member for Burlington division (Hon. Mr. Bull) and the hon. member for Hamilton (Mr. Magill), permit me to say that I know more of the South Riding of Wentworth than either one of those hon. gentlemen. Neither of them has ever had the confidence of the electors of South Wentworth. One of them was in a minority there, last fall, of 300. The other tried it some years ago, and had not the shadow of a chance.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—That may be true. But the hon. gentleman should have stated this also, that Dr. Smith, the opponent of Hon. Mr. Bull, declared he was in favor of the general principles of this measure, and that if the details were satisfactory, he would go for it. So that in fact both the candidates for that constituency, including the whole of Wentworth and the city of Hamilton, declared in favor of the policy of the Government.
Joseph Rymal [Wenworth South]—I beg to say that I have heard Dr. Smith say—not once, or twice, but on different occasions—that he did not believe this scheme would work well.
Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—That was the reason of his defeat, I suppose. (Hear, hear.)
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—It is quite possible that he may have said so since his defeat, but I can only say that I conversed with Dr. Smith myself while he was a candidate, and heard a very different opinion from him. But I think it ill became the honorable gentleman to speak so disparagingly of the testimony of gentlemen as to the feeling of the county, simply because they were not strong in a particular contest. When he remembers how hard a fight he himself had at last election, and that he was only elected by a very small majority, he was hardly in a position to throw discredit on such a score on the statement of hon. gentlemen who have just come from the people, and, after putting the measure fairly and squarely before the electors, have got an almost unanimous verdict in its favor. The hon. member for Hamilton [Charles Magill] polled an immense majority, and it was not right for my honorable friend to indulge in a sneer because he may have been in a minority on a previous occasion. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Speaker, I might detain the House much longer in replying to what fell from honorable members who have spoken during this discussion. But I do not desire to keep the House from the vote. I would simply appeal to the members of this House, that if ever there could be a case made out for action—immediate action—it has been made out with reference to this measure.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—After its rejection below?
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—That does not affect us.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—It affects the possibility of immediate action.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The hon. gentleman will soon know whether or not we can get immediate action. He must recollect, that although the New Brunswick elections have apparently gone against Confederation, there is still a considerable number of members returned there in favor of Confederation, and that there is another large party who are not opposed to union, but only object to some of the details. And there is this to be considered also. It was presented there in a very different light from that in which it comes before us. We have been considering this question for many years. There […]
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[…] is not a point that can be taken against it which has not been thoroughly sifted before the country. We are, therefore, in a different position, and there is this hanging over us besides—as stated by the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron]—we cannot go back, we must go forward—we must have some decision on this question—we cannot let things rest as they are. It is of no use for the hon. member for North Ontario (Mr. M.C. Cameron) to tell us that matters can go on as they have been doing for many years past. That was not the opinion of the hon, gentleman when he came here in 1862. (Hear, hear.)
He came as a supporter of the Conservative Government then in existence, and yet the first vote he gave was in condemnation of his own friends, because they did not bring in a Ministerial measure to settle this question. If he looks at his own speech on that occasion, denouncing the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] and his colleagues, because they would not give representation by population, and because the feeling was so strong that not a moment should be lost in dealing with the question—he would find there an answer to his arguments now, when he tells us this thing may be shoved aside, and matters go on as before. (Hear, hear.)
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I did not state at the time referred to that there was any danger of revolution, or anything of that kind. I urged the question as a measure of justice for Upper Canada against my hon. friends who were not in favor of it.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—He urged it upon his friends on that occasion to turn them out, because they would not move; and now he urges it in the very opposite direction—namely, to turn them out because they do move. (Hear, hear.)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—If the hon. gentleman would allow me to make a remark, I would say it appears to me the fallacy he has fallen into is in assuming that this measure is identical with the measure of representation by population, for which he has been agitating the country for some year past. It is not the same question. The question of Federation or Confederation has not been before the country. It was not before the country at the last general election. He knows full well that the party, of which he is a distinguished member, has pronounced over and over again, and through his own mouth, against this scheme of Confederation. He knows that the Reform Convention of 1859 did so.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—No, it did not.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I say it did.
Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—Get the resolutions, and prove it if you can.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—What were the facts? The Government of that day had proposed a Confederation of all the provinces as their remedy for the Canadian difficulty. The Liberal party did not accept that. If they had done so, the probability is that you would have had Confederation long ago, with the consent of the Lower Provinces. But the Reform Convention declared it was no remedy. It is true they put in a saving clause, that at some future day, in some remote contingency, after the settlement of the Canadian difficulty, but not as a means of settling it, the Federation of all the provinces might be taken up. But I merely rose to point out to my hon. friend the fallacy into which he has fallen—and it is a very close one—in assuming that this measure is identical with the measure for which he agitated the country so long, and which the hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] advocated on the occasion to which he refers.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I think the hon. gentleman has risen for a very poor purpose. And in place of accepting his explanation as correct, I dissent from it toto coelo. The position of the matter is quite the opposite of what he states. He says this is a different thing altogether. I totally deny that it is. I say this is simply what we asked for, only in another form. The measure we asked for was representation by population. We got that. (Hear, hear.)
And the hon. gentleman is the last man to object to this, which is the very basis on which he agreed to go into the Brown-Dorion Administration—representation by population being the basis, accompanied by such checks and guarantees as might be shown to be necessary. (Hear, hear.) The hon. gentleman has stated that I have spoken against Confederation of the provinces. He will turn to no speech of mine since I entered Parliament in which, when I made any allusion to the matter, I did not take care expressly to state that I regarded a union of all the provinces as the grand future destiny of these provinces. But to those who offered us Confederation of the provinces a present remedy for all the evils we suffered, I said I would not accept that. But I took care to Say nothing directly against it, whatever […]
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[…] others may have said or written. In the first place, I doubted whether we had strength enough to assume the burdens it would throw upon us. In the next place, I knew little about the sentiments of the Lower Provinces, how they would regard it. And I thought it likely that it would take years to accomplish. I would not consent, therefore, that any party should make this a stalking horse, and waste time in keeping us negotiating between the Imperial and the Provincial Governments, so as to stave off the practicable remedy which we sought.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—That is what you are doing now.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The hon. gentleman is entirely mistaken. He will find there is no member of this Government who has any idea of shirking this question for an hour. (Hear, hear.)
And he will see that that is the very basis of our present policy. In the original negotiations for this Coalition, while I admitted that it was a good thing and a desirable thing that we should look for the future of these provinces in the direction of provincial union, yet I contended there was a present remedy which we should have and could have of our own motion, until the other was obtained The hon. gentleman will admit that we have been wonderfully, unexpectedly successful in the policy we initiated in July last; and I am prepared to say, as I have always been prepared to say, that if practicable, this measure is a better one than the smaller scheme. But so far from its being a different remedy from ours, I say it is but an extension of our plan—that we who have contended for representation by population for so many years, are getting all that we asked and something more. (Hear, hear.)
It is true that our Lower Canada friends have obtained security for their local institutions. For my part, I am glad they have got it. (Hear, hear.) I have always been willing they should have it. I can appeal to my hon. friend from Kamouraska (Hon. Mr. Chapais) whether I have not always yearly, for thirteen years past, said to him that I was willing to consider the position of Lower Canada with reference to her local institutions, and to give any protection for them which might be thought to be reasonable. (Hear, hear.) And I say this is an admirable compromise under the circumstances—and I say it will be a sad day for the people of Canada if anything should happen to defeat this measure. I do say that the man who looks back upon the last twelve or fifteen years, and the agitation we have gone through, and who would risk throwing us back into that state again, is not—to use the language of the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron]—a true lover of his country. (Cheers.)
After such an immense vote—three-fourths of both branches of the Legislature—in favor of the measure, I look upon it as a most wanton attempt on the part of the minority to endeavor to have it brought into jeopardy by the sectional issues, and the various side issues which might be raised in different parts of the country, so as to make the result of a general election falsely appear to be a disapproval of the measure on the part of the country. Had any one risen in this House at the beginning of last session, and proposed this measure—and if it had been found that all the Upper Canadian members of this Chamber were in favor of it but eight, while the Lower Canadian members were in favor of it by a majority of thirteen, and that three-fourths of the Upper House were in its favor—I ask hon. gentlemen if the man would not have been regarded as insane who would have proposed that it should not be put through at once, but deferred for a general election? (Hear, hear.)
And when the House gave its sanction last session to the Government going on with this project, and submitting a scheme worthy of adoption—I ask hon. members if they ever expected we could present a measure which would carry a vote of three-fourths of both branches of the Legislature? (Hear, hear.) We have been unexpectedly successful. And as to consulting the people, I tell hon. gentlemen that the people will laugh to scorn their pretended zeal for popular rights. The people want the kernel and not the shell. They want not, for the sake of a constitutional form, to risk the success of this measure—to risk the breaking up of the combination formed to carry it—and to risk the bringing back of all those discords and difficulties from which, by the maturing of this scheme, they thought we had happily escaped. (Cheers.)
John Cameron [Peel]—The honorable gentleman has misrepresented my position in this matter. I have voted for the resolutions on which an Address is to be based, and this resolution is simply in amendment to the motion for the appointment of a committee to draft that Address, and conveys no insult to any one. It does not interfere in […]
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[…] any way with Ministers going home with those resolutions—a copy of which is already before the Imperial Parliament—in their hands. The hon. gentleman must have misunderstood what I stated. I ask only that the people have an opportunity of doing that which I have done myself—that is, to vote for the measure. (Hear, hear.) The hon. gentleman says he does not thank me for my support. Sir, that hon gentleman personally has never had my support. It is not to him I give my support, but to the Government as a whole, and to the cause which has called it into existence. The hon. gentleman knows well my political views have been so little in accordance with his, that nothing but the importance of this movement would have put it in his power to make me such a taunt, and that he has no occasion whatever to thank me for my support, which is given not because he is in the Ministry, but in spite of his being in that position. (Hear, hear.)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I propose confining my observations to the a motion now in your hands, Mr. Speaker First, as to the point on which the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown] allowed me to interrupt him I charged the hon. gentleman with assuming that the question now before the House was specifically the one on which he agitated the country for several years, and upon which the hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] voted in 1862. I happen to have placed in my hands the report of what took place when the subject of a Federal union was before the House, in 1858. Hon. Mr. Galt having put the resolution before the House, respecting the Federation of the British North American Provinces, Hon. Mr. Brown moved his standing motion respecting representation according to population, as an amendment to it. There he put the two propositions in distinct juxtaposition, and yet to-night he endeavors to convince the House that this measure is substantially the measure which he was then contending for—endeavors to show insincerity on the part of the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron], because he voted against his own friends, in 1862, on representation by population, and now votes against this measure.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I am sure my hon. friend does not wish to misrepresent; but I think he will find that that motion was proposed, and that there were two other amendments which were voted down. I recollect that at the close of my speech I said I wanted representation by population—I am willing to take it alone; I am willing to take it with a Federal union; I am willing to take it any way so that we get it.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The honorable gentleman is confounding what occurred in 1856 with what occurred in 1858. In 1856 he did signify his willingness to accept the proposition of a Canadian Federation, if it was concurred in by any considerable number of the representatives from Lower Canada. But what I now allude to is what took place in 1858, when, instead of accepting Hon. Mr. Galt’s proposition to Federate all the provinces, he put a motion in amendment to it, showing that in 1858, as in 1859, he was not willing to consider that question as a means of settling the Canadian difficulty. But I think the honorable gentleman, though he was more or less successful in answering the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron], utterly failed to meet the very cogent reasoning of my honorable friend from North Ontario [Matthew Cameron]. I hold as strongly as any member of this House to the doctrine of representation as contradistinguished from the doctrine of delegation.
We are here commissioned by our constituents to do all that may be done under the Constitution under which we are sent here to legislate. But I hold that the change of the Constitution is something beyond our functions; that the representative elected to administer the existing Constitution has no right to vote for the subversion of that Constitution. (Hear, hear.)
That is the doctrine which I hold, and I think honorable gentlemen will find it exceedingly difficult to controvert it Then it has been said that there can be no possible occasion of appealing to the people, for they have already been appealed to and expressed their approval of the scheme. I do not know how many constituencies have been appealed to since June last.
An Hon. Member—Fifty or sixty.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Well, fifty or sixty. But the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] has referred to the Hon. Mr. Bull as being elected to support this measure, and a little further on he spoke of his opponent, Dr. Smith, and said that he too was in favor of the scheme generally, but that there might be some of the details of which, when it came out, he could not approve, thus letting out that the details of the scheme were not […]
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[…] before the people at all. When my hon. friend from South Oxford [George Brown] went to his own constituency for reelection, were any of the details before the people? (Hear, hear.)
The general project of Federation was before the people, though prominence was then given chiefly to the lesser scheme of a Canadian Federation, but none of the details were known. He surely will not argue from the result of that election or of any of the elections, including those for the Legislative Council, except perhaps that for the city of Hamilton and that of the Hon. Postmaster General [William Howland], which occurred after the publication of the resolutions, that the people have voted with a knowledge of the details of the measure.
These elections, therefore, prove no more that the people are in favor of the scheme, than the election of the Macdonald-Sicotte Government in 1862—a Government formed upon the principle of retrenchment, pledged to the double majority system, and who made opposition to representation by population a close question, proved that the people were in favor of that system, or of making opposition to representation by population a close question. Then, sir, there is one other point to which I wish to refer. The Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], in the course of his conversation with the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron], said that the people of all the provinces were against a legislative union.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I did not say so. The hon. gentleman was speaking of the different provinces as represented in the Quebec Conference. The delegates were all opposed to it.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—The hon. gentleman, at all events, said this, that a legislative union could not be carried. I should like to ask him what position it places him in as to political sagacity, to confess to night that he has been wrong for the last twenty years. He has declared over and over again that he was in favor of a legislative union. At the very last meeting of the constitutional committee, or of the Brown Committee, as it has been called—a committee to which great importance has been attached, but which really possesses very little significance—last session, upon a motion for the adoption of the report, that hon. gentleman voted against Federation in every form. (Hear, hear.)
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—How does the hon. gentleman know that?
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—It was reported to the House, on the very day of the crisis which eventuated in the formation of this Coalition, that honorable gentleman voted in committee against the Federal principle, whether as applied to Canada or to all the provinces, he being in favor of a legislative union. He, the leader of this House, who sets himself up as the most sagacious politician of the country, who claims to be a leader of them, now admits that down to the 14th of June last, he himself was mistaken as to the possible mode in which a change of government could be effected in this province. (Hear, hear.)
He was opposed to a Federal union, yet he now comes down as the leader of the Government, and says that it is absurd to talk of a legislative union; that he has been altogether wrong, and that it is utterly impracticable to carry out the views he held down to the 14th of June last, and affirmed down to that very day. Well, sir, that is all that I rose to say—to say that the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] has not really met the point raised by this motion; that there had been no appeal to the people in these elections on the details of this scheme; that it was not in the contemplation of the electors at the last general election; that the whole Liberal party were opposed to it as a means of settling the Canadian difficulty; that it was never brought forward until the crisis of June last; that the people have consequently had no opportunity of pronouncing upon it; and that we have no right to dispose of it finally without an appeal to the people, involving, as it does, a subversion of the Constitution. (Hear, hear.)
Charles Magill [Hamilton]—I had no intention of speaking on this subject, had my name not been mentioned to-night by some of the hon. gentlemen who have addressed the House. I have only to say that when the subject was brought before the electors of the city of Hamilton, there appeared to be but one opinion concerning it—they all seemed to be in favor of carrying out a Federal union. (Hear, hear.) I believe that the people were in favor of any change, and I think I would not be discharging my duty to my constituents if I did not stand up in this House and state my opinions as I expressed them a short time ago to the electors. I think that the people of Canada were highly satisfied with the conduct of the public men of this country; that they were proud of the manly, straightforward and self-denying spirit evinced by them in showing their willingness to set […]
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[…] aside personal or party interests, and unite as one man for the common good of this country. (Hear, hear.) They were willing to bury all past differences for the welfare and prosperity of the country at large. (Hear.) My honorable friend from South Wentworth (Mr. Rymal) has spoken of the feeling among the people there. That honorable gentleman may perhaps know more of the people in that county than I do; but from what I know of them, I can say without any hesitation that the people there are strongly in favor of a union of all these provinces. (Hear, hear.)
Then, as to the election of Hon. Mr. Bull, I think that nothing so much helped to secure his return as his promise to support the Government in this scheme. And I think that it ill becomes the honorable member for South Wentworth [Joseph Rymal], one of the eight Upper Canadians who oppose this scheme, to get up in this House and speak as he has done to-day. I believe that this scheme will be attended by the very best and most beneficial results.
My honorable friend from South Wentworth (Mr. Rymal), in furnishing an illustration to prove the impropriety of the scheme of union, compared it to adding joints to a fishing rod; but the comparison did not bear him out in his conclusions, as the people of Canada have at all times, and in every emergency, shown themselves to be possessed of that indomitable spirit which will never quail before a foe—and the union of such material cannot fail to give them increased power to resist aggression, and to maintain and hand down to posterity the rights and privileges which we so happily enjoy. (Hear, hear.)
The fact of uniting strong men together is not going to make them any weaker. What is it that has given rise to the name England possesses all the world over? Why, it is union. That is the glory of the British Constitution. “Union is strength” the old maxim says, and I believe that it will prove so as regards the united Provinces of British North America. (Hear, hear.)
Henri Joly [Lotbinière] said—Mr. Speaker, I regret that this resolution was not brought up sooner; however, I am glad that it is brought up now, for it will explain to outsiders the manner in which this Confederation scheme has been carried through this House. When the people of the Lower Provinces and of England observe the reluctance which the Government has to allowing the people an opportunity to express themselves, by means of general elections, it will let them into the whole secret of the manner in which the Government have obtained so large a vote for their scheme in the present Parliament. (Hear, hear.)
Now, this is all the more important, because people who do not live in Canada cannot be expected to understand our affairs any better than we understand theirs. As an instance of how a people may be misunderstood abroad, we heard the Honorable Minister of Agriculture (Hon. Mr. McGee), who professes to be well acquainted with the Lower Provinces, prophesying that the result of the elections in New Brunswick would be largely in favor of Confederation; but when he found his fine prediction destroyed, we then heard him trying to explain the result as being due to annexation tendencies and Americanizing influences.
Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—Not all, but a good deal of it.
Henri Joly [Lotbinière]—Now, in Canada, all those who oppose the Confederation scheme are accused of having the same annexation feeling as the people of New Brunswick are said to be tainted with. It is extraordinary how different people on the same side of politics will look upon things. I have just noticed in the Daily News of this city, a few lines of a rather startling character.
[Having read a passage from the News of the 10th of March, with reference to the abolition of the passport system, Mr. Joly proceeded:]
There are two ways of looking at this. Here is a newspaper, supporting the Government, which says that if the Lower Provinces have not been relieved from the passport system, as Canada has been, it is certainly because their relations are not as friendly with the United States as ours.
It is only since our relations became friendly with the United States—since we passed that Alien Bill, and voted that money stolen by the St. Alban’s raiders—it is only since we have bowed down before them that we have obtained relief from the obnoxious system. The Lower Provinces having taken a firmer stand, the United States Government have refused to make the same concession to them as has been made to us. I think, therefore it is a mistake to say that it is American influence or annexation proclivities that have caused the defeat of the friends of Confederation in New Brunswick. The only transactions that we have taken upon ourselves to make, affecting any foreign state, have been the passing of the Alien Bill and the granting of that money for the St. Alban’s banks. In this instance, it appears most clear that this province stands in a better, closer and more friendly relation with the United States, […]
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[…] through such action, than the Lower Provinces. Therefore it seems to me more reasonable to suppose that the American sympathizers in New Brunswick have been defeated at the polls, instead of triumphant. The Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] explains the difference between Canada and New Brunswick, as to the desirability of having new elections, by saying that there was a new election there because the term of the Legislature was about to expire.
Well, this would have been our last session too, if the Confederation scheme had passed, and therefore supposing the Confederation scheme to have gone into operation as soon as the Government anticipated it would, we should have been exactly in the same position as New Brunswick in relation to a new election. The same reasons for having a new election there exist here, and there is no better reason to be assigned for refusing to allow the people of Canada to express themselves on this project, than there was for the Government of New Brunswick to refuse a dissolution of the Legislature of that province.
But while we see the Government of that province willing and anxious to give the people an opportunity of expressing their will, how differently are the people of Canada treated! (Hear, hear.) The Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] has alluded to a majority of the French-Canadians being in favor of the Confederation scheme. I find by the vote that twenty-six voted in favor of it, and twenty-two against. Among the twenty-six were three members of the Administration who propounded the scheme, and were so interested in the result of the vote, that in all fairness they ought not to be counted. Deducting these, the figures would stand twenty-three to twenty-two.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Well, if you deduct the members of the Government, you ought also to deduct the leaders of the Opposition. (Laughter.)
Henri Joly [Lotbinière]—I think not, because they were not more deeply interested in the vote than other members on the floor of the House. Out of the twenty-six, they are at least half a dozen whose conduct has been condemned in the most direct manner by their constituents, in public assemblies duly held for the purpose of considering the Confederation question. I can instance the counties of Joliette, Rouville, Chambly, L’Assomption, &c. So if we take the French-Canadians and place the matter in a fair and equitable footing, we will find that they are about equally divided in this House, and that it is hard to tell whether the majority of the people are for or against it by their representatives in Parliament. It is impossible to know what the opinions of the French-Canadians are at this moment, or to find out, except by giving them an opportunity to record their votes by means of the elections.
The French-Canadians are nearly a million of people, and I think they are entitled to be heard on this scheme as much as any of the Lower Provinces; and if for no other purpose than to give them an opportunity of expressing themselves, there ought to be a general election. I say that we have been taken by surprise through the rapid manner in which this scheme has been introduced and carried through this House. We have been told that because our leaders would not agree to any arrangement by which the demands of Upper Canada could be met, either in whole or in part, the scheme has been imposed upon us.
If that alternative had been presented to us at an earlier day, I think it would have been possible for us to have met our Upper Canadian friends in a scheme of conciliation, agreeing upon a measure which, if not satisfactory to all, would, at all events, draw us more closely to one another. For instance, the principal complaint is that Upper Canada pays two-thirds of the taxes, and is allowed to have control of only one-half the money contributed by those taxes. I will not say that I would grant representation by population rather than be forced to accept the Confederation scheme; but I can say that I find the claim of Upper Canada, in reference to the finances, perfectly fair and just, and I only rise to express my opinion, as one of the members of this House, to that effect.
I would be quite willing to enter into some arrangement that would give to Upper Canada a greater proportion of the expenditure, in proportion to its population, and stake my chances of re-election upon that declaration. (Hear, hear.) I dare say that many in Upper Canada would not be quite satisfied with that; but for my part, I do not feel that I have a right to offer more. I merely wish to show that Lower Canadians are not as lost to all sense of justice as not to recognise the correctness of that principle, and are not so much opposed to the making of some concessions as many of the people of Upper Canada seem to imagine. If we had been informed as to what was coming, I think we certainly should have gone into some arrangement towards suiting the views of Upper Canada, by increasing her share of control on the revenue, rather than be compelled […]
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[…] to accept this Confederation scheme. The most pressing reason given for passing the measure now is, that the relations between Upper and Lower Canada have reached such a stage, that the Government of the country cannot go on in peace and quietness any longer. I do not think anything of the kind is the case. I do not think any honorable gentleman from Upper Canada is ready to rush into civil war. I do not think any number of people in Upper Canada has given up the hope of obtaining, by constitutional means, what they think is fair. I do not think any of them would think of coming down here and obtaining the rights of Upper Canada by murder, bloodshed and civil war. I think it is most unfortunate that the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] should have attempted to frighten us by the use of such terms.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The hon. gentleman must be mistaken. I never used such words in connection with the advocacy of Upper Canadian rights.
Henri Joly [Lotbinière]—I beg the hon. gentleman’s pardon, but I have heard him use those terms several times on the floor of this House.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Then it must have been of speaking of the war in the United States.
Henri Joly [Lotbinière]—The hon. gentleman certainly told us in his speech at the opening of this debate, that our country was in danger of being plunged into civil war.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—It certainly was not me; the hon. gentleman is mistaken in the person. It was the honorable member for Richelieu [Joseph Perrault] who used words of that character. I have never used such language in this House in relation to our constitutional difficulties.
Joseph Perrault [Richelieu]—What I said was that the Constitution, as it stood, was sufficient to enable us to live under it for centuries to come, without civil war. (Laughter.)
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Now the hon. member ought to withdraw that statement with regard to myself, until he can prove it. It was not the Hon. Premier of the Government, but myself whom he charged with using the words “civil war” in relation to Canada.
Henri Joly [Lotbinière]—I understand what is due from one hon. member of the House to another, and I very cheerfully withdraw the statement, because I cannot find the words just this moment in the report of the hon. gentleman’s speech; but I will call his attention the matter again, so soon as I am in a position to prove the statement I have made. But I certainly was always under the impression that he had used those words. (Hear, hear.)
Well now, having withdrawn those words with reference to one member of the Administration, I have to make the same charge against another member, occupying even a higher position in the Cabinet. Here are the very words employed by the leader of the Administration, in addressing the Upper House On page 9 of the Parliamentary Debates on Confederation, I find this passage in the speech of the hon. and gallant knight at the head of the Government [Étienne Pascal Taché]:—”At the time these measures were resolved upon, the country was bordering on civil strife, and he would ask if it was not the duty of both sides to do all they could to prevent the unfortunate results which would have followed.” Well, I see it is the term “civil strife” that is used instead of “civil war.” (Laughter.) But it is used in the same sense as the term “civil war.”
The French version of our official reports has “guerre civile.” I think it is most unfortunate to hear hon. members of the Government, who have in their keeping the fair fame of the country, letting it go to the world that Canada, which was always looked upon as such a happy, free and prosperous country, was on the eve of civil strife. It is all the more unfortunate that I was mistaken in reference to the person who uttered those words, for I find now that it is the Prime Minister of Canada [Étienne Pascal Taché], instead of the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown]. If that honorable gentleman had said anything approaching to what I charged him with, I am sure he would not have denied it in the manner he Has, for I think he would have been willing to have considered the spirit of the charge more than the mere letter. I will not now take up the time of the House any longer. I simply wish to show the unfair means that had been used by the Government in carrying their Confederation scheme through this House. (Cheers.)
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I think, sir, that my hon. friend who spoke last made a mistake in the construction of the English language, when he charged my hon. friend the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] with alluding to civil war, and that his remarks were rather unparliamentarily in so far as they alluded to the debate in the other branch of the Legislature. (Hear, hear.) He charged my honorable friend with stating that the […]
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[…] country was on the eve of revolution and warfare; but on trying to hunt up the proof, he finds that the words on which he based the charge were used in a speech delivered by somebody else in the other branch of the Legislature. The passage he quotes alludes to the country being in a state of civil strife. Well, Mr. Speaker, that is quite true. Sir, we have been in a state of strife for a great many years. An election is a civil strife, and a lawsuit is a civil strife, but warfare is a most uncivil strife.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Does my hon. friend mean to class lawsuits under the head of civil strife?
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—Well, perhaps they are a little uncivil at times, but my Hon. friend knows all about it, for he fattens on that kind of strife. (Laughter.)
Henri Joly [Lotbinière]—Well, I would like to ask what the hon. gentleman calls the war in the United States; is that not civil strife? (Laughter.)
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—No, no, no; that is civil war, because it is a war among the people themselves.
Henri Joly [Lotbinière]—Well, I do not think there is anything wrong in calling it civil strife, and I consider the terms synonymous.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—The war in the United States is a most disastrous, and even barbarous civil war; but the word civil strife is not applicable to it. I have already explained the meaning of the term, and I hope now that my hon. friend sees the evil of his ways, he will abandon his opposition to the Government. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Speaker, for the sake of the character of this House, and for the sake of the public purse, I must protest against the current of the debate which has arisen from the motion of the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron]. I thought we had got through with the discussion, and that as every hon. member had had the opportunity of speaking not only once or twice, but three or four times, we had finished the debate, and taken a vote which was rather satisfactory to the Government, by which the question had been introduced into the House, and that it was generally understood that the discussion of the propriety of the Confederation of the provinces was to end there. (Hear, hear.)
But I find in the remarks of hon. gentlemen opposite a tendency to reopen the whole question, after it has been decided by this House, upon a motion made by myself for the appointment of a committee to draft an Address in which the resolutions should be embodied. I say, sir that this is an abuse of parliamentary privilege, a waste of the time of this House and of the public money, while it serves no good purpose, and I am sure that the good feeling and common sense of this House will not allow anything of this kind to go on. One tiling connected with this subject I greatly regret. I very much regret that although the debate has been so long protracted, and although we have had an expression from almost every member of this House, we have hitherto failed in getting the arguments promised in the speech of my hon. friend from Chateauguay [Luther Holton]. (Hear, hear)
For some reason or other we cannot get that speech out. Just as Moses went up to Pisgah’s top and viewed the Promised Land in the distance, just so the hon. member gives us an occasional glimpse of the promised speech, but we have thus far been disappointed in our expectations of hearing it delivered. We have been promised it two or three times during the past month. The honorable member ought to remember that “hope deferred market the heart sick.” I am sure I desire to have the pleasure and satisfaction of hearing from the honorable gentleman, and having the advantage of the information which the honorable gentleman is well known to be able of giving this House; for though young in years, he is old in political wisdom and in that political sagacity of which he denies me the possession. I say I am sorry, and this House must be sorry, and the country must be sorry, that the hon. gentleman has practised so much self-denial as to re I use to allow his radiance to shine forth upon this great question. The thing which so utterly destroys the hon. gentleman’s utility is his extreme modesty. (Laughter.)
Why, when he had to rush to the rescue of the disordered finances of this country, at great personal sacrifice, for the sake of saving the country from the ruin that hung over it through the lavish extravagance of my hon. friend the present Hon. Finance Minister [Alexander T. Galt], he looked, with the exercise of his great financial ability, down into the recesses of the public chest and speedily discovered the source of all the evils that had fallen upon the country, and yet the modesty of the hon. gentleman prevented him from making known the remedy. (Laughter.)
And so it is even now. He has been promising to give us his views upon this great question; but four weeks have passed, and his speech yet hangs fire. And […]
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[…] to-day he told us, after drawing himself up with that righteous indignation which he can so well affect, that the Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] had tried to stop the publication of the debates, and that he himself had yet to fire his speech on this great subject, because it was too late to do so on Saturday morning; and yet, when the honorable gentleman gets up, he says he will confine himself to this resolution. He did so, and confined himself very narrowly to it, (Hear, hear.)
The hon. gentleman has somehow or other become the guardian of my political reputation. He has, on two or three occasions, warned me that although the course I took was, perhaps, that of a practical man—that of one who desired merely to keep office and become famous for political acuteness—yet it would never secure for me the fame of being a great statesman. Well, sir, I am satisfied to confine myself to practical things—to the securing of touch practical measures as the country really wants.
I am satisfied not to have a refutation for indulging in imaginary schemes and harboring visionary ideas that may end sometimes in an annexation movement, sometimes in Federation and sometimes in a legislative union, but always Utopian and never practical I am satisfied to leave the imaginary, the poetic and the impossible to the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton]. The other day the honorable gentleman paused to say, in the course of one of his little, numerous, by the by speeches, that in taking the course I have done on this question—that of advocating a Federal instead of a Legislative union—I violated all the principles of my former life having a bearing on this subject.
Mr. Speaker, it is quite true that alter a careful examination of the Constitution of the United States, in connection with its practical working, and the civil war that has grown out of it, I saw many weaknesses in connection with the Federal system, as operated in that country, and I was as desirous as any min could be in taking part in the Conference relating to union between the Provinces of British North America, that as much as the legislative form of government as possible, and as few of the weaknesses which experience had shown to exist in the American Constitution, should be incorporated in ours. I do not like to refer to any remarks of mine in times past; but as this charge has been brought against me, I will read, by permission of the House, a passage from a speech of mine, in relation to representation by population. And I might here say that it is the only speech I ever delivered in my life, which I have ever taken any particular trouble to revise. The hon. gentleman will see, from this passage, what my sentiments were, in 1861, on the subject, while taking part in a debate on representation by population. I was replying to a speech made by my present colleague, the Hon. Minister of Agriculture [Thomas D’Arcy McGee]. I said:—
The only feasible scheme which presented itself to his (my) mind, as a remedy for the evils complained of, was a Confederation of all the provinces. (Hear, hear.) But in speaking of a Confederation he must not be understood as alluding to it in the sense of the one on the other side of the line. For that had not been successful. Bat then he did not say so from any feeling of satisfaction at such a result. Far from him be any such idea. He heartily agreed with the junior member for Montreal (Hon. Mr. McGee) in every word of regret which he had expressed at the unhappy and lamentable state of things which they now witnessed in the States, for he remembered that they were of the same blood as ourselves. He still looked hopefully to the future of the United States. He believed there was a vigor, a vitality, in the Anglo-Saxon character and the Anglo-Saxon institutions of the United States that would carry them through this great convulsion, as they had carried through our Mother Country in days of old. (Loud cheers from both sides of the House.)
He hoped with that honorable gentleman (Hon. Mr. McGee), that if they were to be severed in two—as severed in two he believed they would be—two great, two noble, two free nations would exist in place of one. (Hear, hear.) But, while he thus sympathized with them, he must say, let it be a warning to ourselves that we do not split on the same rock which they had done. The fatal error which they had committed—and it was, perhaps, unavoidable from the state of the colonies at the time of the revolution—was in making each state a distinct sovereignty, and giving to each a distinct sovereign power, except in those instances where they were specially reserved by the Constitution and conferred upon the General Government. The true principle of a Confederation lay in giving to the General Government all the principles and powers of sovereignty, and that the subordinate or individual states should have no powers but those expressly bestowed on them. We should thus have a powerful Central Government, a powerful Central Legislature, and a decentralized system of minor legislatures for local purposes.
These, sir, were the opinions I uttered in a […]
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[…] speech delivered in 1861; and I say that the Constitution which this House, by a majority of three to one, has carried out as far as it is concerned, is, in spirit and letter, that which I then pointed out; and that was not the result of my experience, my thought and my opinion alone, but of the experience, thought and opinion of every man who had studied and taken into consideration the character of the Constitution of the United States. I know that in making that quotation I am committing the error which I have charged upon other hon. members of the House of going back in the debate; but I thought that it iris due to myself to read it to the House, because the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton]—not in that blunt, plain-spoken style which characterises some hon. gentlemen, but with that soothing, soft language that is so grateful to one’s feelings—(laughter)—stated that in proposing a Federal union of these provinces I belied the whole of my political life, and that it was for this reason I made so feeble and ineffectual a speech when I offered these resolutions to the House. As to the feebleness and ineffectiveness of my speech, that, sir, I admit; but as to my sentiments on Confederation, they were the sentiments of my life, my sentiments in Parliament years ago, my sentiments in the Conference, and my sentiments now. (Hear, hear.)
Mr. Speaker, I submit, with all due deference to your decision, that the motion proposed by the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] is in order; and it is a point, I am free to admit, of such doubt that I ought not to see up my opinion against that impartially given by yourself, for one is very apt to decide in his own favor in a doubtful case. It would have been very convenient for the Government to have it declared out order, and our feelings may therefore have caused us to take a less impartial view than that taken by yourself; and it became our duty to submit to your ruling, unless we believed in our conscience that beyond all doubt you were wrong. Having been declared to be properly before the House, I must say that the motion of the hon. member is altogether inconsistent with his votes upon the question of Confederation. (Hear, hear.)
I cannot understand how a hon. member who gave the two votes he did last week upon that question, could make the motion in amendment now under consideration. (Hear, hear.) Indeed I understood him to say that he did not design this as an amendment, but as a separate and independent motion; and I think it is to be regretted that having made up his mind to support the resolutions I proposed, he did not also support the formal machinery necessary to give them effect; that he did not accept my invitation to propose his views in a separate and distinct motion, instead of in the shape of an amendment to an Address for which he himself voted. (Hear, hear)
When I say that I regret that my hon. friend has taken this course, I must at the same time congratulate him upon the sound doctrine he has laid down in his speech; for if I wanted, if the House wanted, an argument in favor of the measure which the Government has laid before the House, we could not have had it in more eloquent and convincing language than that contained in the speech of my hon. friend. My hon. friend is always eloquent and always convincing, but he could not have been more eloquent or more convincing than when he spoke on this question of Confederation.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—What a compliment!
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—It may be a compliment, but it is not flattery. A compliment is the statement of an agreeable truth; flattery is the statement of an agreeable untruth. Now, were I to state that the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] delivered an eloquent and convincing speech, that would be flattery—(great laughter )—but when I state, in all sincerity, that the speech of the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] was an eloquent and convincing one, I may compliment, but I do not flatter. (Hear, hear.)
But what struck me as strange was that while my hon. friend stated to the House that he was not a man to make an unconstitutional motion, or to make a motion committing in any way a breach of constitutional usage, or to propose anything less than a constitutional appeal to the people, he should oppose the motion before the House; for I know that my hon. friend is not the man to commit a fundamental error against constitutional and free institutions. He knew well, and it is much to the credit of my hon. friend as a sound constitutional lawyer, that although he drew his notice of motion hurriedly, it was necessary, when he presented it to the House, to guard against mistake; and he took care that the appeal he proposed to make to the people on this question should be a constitutional appeal by the members of this House going to the polls. (Hear, hear.) But my hon. friend the seconder of […]
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[…] the resolution, who called upon the House to support it, says he does not believe a word of it. (Laughter.) The very first sentence that he uttered was that he did not believe in the resolution; for he said that he was in favor of submitting yes or no to the people, but not in the mode proposed by the resolution, the only mode known to our Constitution.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I do not wish my language to be misrepresented by my hon. friend. What I stated was that I did not consider that to be the only way of ascertaining the views of the people, and did not think it wrong to take a vote, yea or nay, upon the question.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—Well, my hon. friend from Peel [John Cameron] submitted that the appeal should be made in one way, the constitutional way, and that was the way my hon. friend from North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] did not like. How could my hon. friend suppose that a vote like that could be taken in a country whose Constitution is modelled on the Constitution of England? By what contrivance known to our Constitution could we take such a vote? There is none such. There is no means, no system, by which we could make an appeal of that kind, and in order to do it we should have to subvert the principles of the British Constitution.
The hon. gentleman knows there is no means of doing it. We might, indeed, pass a law declaring that the people shall vote yes or no on this question; but such a law would in itself be a change in our Constitution, and I would like to see any man representing Her Majesty in this country give his sanction to a measure of that kind, which would be a subversion of the first principles of British constitutional government. Sir, we in this House are representatives of the people, and not mere delegates; and to pass such a law would be robbing ourselves of the character of representatives, and be a proceeding which even the honorable member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] himself denounces in language, although he supports it in countenance when pressed by others. That hon. gentleman is too familiar with the principles of British constitutional government to support such a proceeding himself, but still he encourages others to do it, and to say that which he would not advance himself. (Hear, hear)
Sir, a reference to the people—a direct reference to the people—of a question of this kind may be the means by which a despot, an absolute monarch, may get that popular confirmation and approval which he desires for the laws necessary to the support and continuation of his usurpation. It may be the means by which a despot, at the point of the bayonet, may ask the people to vote yea or nay on the measure he proposes; but in every free country where there is a Constitution at all, the vote must be taken by the constituted authorities, the representatives of the people, and not become a mere form and cover to tyranny, but a measure which accords with the calm and deliberate judgments of the people, as expressed through their representatives. (Hear, hear.) I was rather alarmed when I first read the notice given by my hon. friend from Peel [John Cameron], and feared that he was going to take the course advised by the hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron], because the language of his notice was undefined upon the subject.
I, however, had every confidence in the constitutional principles—the conservative principles—of the hon. gentleman; but as the language of the notice was not clear, I was exceedingly relieved when he read the motion to the House in its present complete shape. I admit that it was quite open to any member of this Parliament to move either that the House be dissolved or not dissolved. I admit that the hon. member had a constitutional right to move that the House be dissolved, with a view of referring this question to the people, and therefore it was that I felt relieved when I found that this was the course he proposed, and regret, on the other hand, that the hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] has so far fallen away from his old conservative principles as to take the other ground. Now, what is the opinion entertained upon this subject in England?
I was exceedingly pleased to read lately the report of a speech delivered to his constituents, at Huddersfield, by Mr. Leatham, a member of the Imperial Parliament. He is, I believe, a brother-in-law of Mr. John Bright, and belongs to the advanced Liberal school of English politicians, known as the Manchester school; and although educated in the political doctrines of that school, he yet had the courage to get up before the people of Huddersfield, as Radical a constituency as any in all England, and spoke in strong language against the Permissive Bill, a temperance measure which resembles that passed through this Legislature by the hon. member for Brome [Christopher Dunkin], because he held that it was unconstitutional […]
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[…] to hand over to the people the power of voting directly upon a law before it came into effect. He contended that the responsibility of voting for a measure must rest upon the Legislature alone, and that it could not refer this responsibility to the people. When you find an advanced Liberal like Mr. Leatham taking that ground, and going to the length he did in support of it, you can well understand the principles that actuate the great majority of the people of England. Allow me to read to the House the language employed by Mr. Leatham on this point. It is not long, and it seems to me exceedingly instructive The Times, in an article on the speech, says:—
Mr. Leatham’s argument on this subject is well worthy of attention, not only for its bearing on the question of compulsory temperance, but from the much wider range of subjects to which it is applicable. “It is,” he says, “the essence of representative government that the electing class, which is analogous to the class paying rates, shall possess no direct legislative power; and the principle of parliamentary representation is that not even the representative principle shall alone legislate. We have taken the precaution to protect the rights and property of Englishmen by the prerogatives of the Crown, the privileges of the Lords, and the authority of a representative Assembly.
All these constitute the threefold and invaluable shelter which we have raised over the rights and property of the meanest subject in the realm. But here is a proposition which, with naked and revolutionary simplicity, proposes to intrust the property and maintenance of the rights of a large class of persons to diminutive, homogeneous, democratic, and irresponsible parliaments set up all over the country, in place of a central, responsible, compound, and constitutional one. It seems to me that this strikes at the root of a constitutional and representative system.”
These, sir, are the words used by an advanced reformer, a member of one of the most advanced schools of politicians in England. They are words of wisdom, and ought to rest with weight on the mind of every admirer of representative institutions, who does not wish to see those institutions degraded in this country, and representation become mere delegation. (Hear, hear.)
Why, sir, for what do we come to this House, if it is not because we are supposed to be convinced by argument, if it is not that we are to sit down together and compare notes and discuss the questions that may come before us, and to be convinced according to the force of the reasons that may be advanced for or against them? And if we are honest, conscientious men, we change our opinions as we become convinced that that which we held before was wrong and the opposite right. But if the other doctrine obtains, that we are not representatives but delegates, we might as well meet here and pass measures without any discussion whatever, every man voting according to the instructions of the commission which he holds in his pocket from his constituents. (Hear, hear.)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—What was the previous question?
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—Well, that was not voted upon without argument; for full opportunity was given to discuss it before hon. members were required to vote. I was saying, sir, that the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] committed an act of inconsistency in voting for these resolutions, and then proposing this amendment what did the resolutions amount to? The honorable gentleman voted for an Address to the Queen, praying that she may be pleased to lay before the Imperial Parliament a measure for the union of these colonies, on the basis of the resolutions of the Quebec Conference.
He voted for it because he approved of the proposition; and if we had followed the practice of the Imperial Parliament, the Address would have been adopted by the vote which he and a majority of hon. members gave, and probably would be on its way to England now for presentation to Her Majesty. It is a practice lately adopted to refer the Address formally to a committee, to report it back again to the House. Well, my hon. friend, by his vote, affirmed that this Address should be sent to Her Majesty; but what does this motion proposed by him declare? Why, that the Address which he declared by his vote should be presented to the Queen, should not be sent. That in the plain meaning of it, and—I was going to say that it gives the lie to his former action, but—is the very opposite to the previous vote of the hon. gentleman. (Hear, hear.) That is the course which my hon. friend has taken, and I must say that it is an extraordinary and inconsistent one.
John Cameron [Peel]—It is strictly parliamentary.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—It is parliamentary because the Speaker ruled it so; but I maintain that the motion of my hon. friend is entirely inconsistent with his vote on my resolution.
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John Cameron [Peel]—My hon. friend, says that it is merely a matter of form to refer an Address adopted by the House to a committee, and is so regarded in England. But I wish to point out to my hon. friend that in the Imperial Parliament, on the 7th of February last, the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne was moved and unanimously assented to by the House; that it was then referred to a committee of the House, which committee reported it back, and that on the Address coming up for a second reading, Mr. Scully moved an amendment in reference to the state of Ireland, in opposition to the Address for which he had himself before voted. (Hear, hear.)
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I quite agree with hon gentleman as to the fact stated, but in the first place there was no vote of the House upon the Address.
John Cameron [Peel]—Yes, the vote was unanimous. I can give another case if my hon. friend desires it.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—Well, if Mr. Scully was present when the Address was first voted, he would no doubt have voted against it. But this is the first case I have yet heard of an honorable member voting to carry a certain motion, and then proposing an amendment to upset it; and when he did propose it, I myself thought it was unparliamentarily, but the Speaker ruled it in order, and to his decision I bow. Now, if the hon. gentleman thought that from the circumstances of the country or for any other cause, no Address of the kind should go to the Queen, he should have said so by voting against it. But he did not say that; on the contrary, he said that there should be an Address to the Queen, praying Her to lay a measure before the Imperial Parliament—that measure to contain a Constitution for these colonies, and that Constitution to embrace all the resolutions adopted by the Quebec Conference; and the very next moment the hon. gentleman gets up, and like the boy who builds up and then knocks down a house of cards, moves an Address to the Governor General, praying him not to send that Address to the Queen, and thus defeats the very motion for which he voted. (Hear, hear.)
He voted first that this House should address the Queen, and then by his motion says that it shall not address the Queen at all, but that this House shall be dissolved, and that there shall be an election, and then that another House shall address the Queen. (Hear, hear.)
After voting that this House shall address the Queen, it seems to me to be little less than an insult to Her Majesty to say that the House shall be deprived of all possibility of passing the Address, and that a future, not this Parliament, shall do so. It seems to me that my hon. friend’s inconsistency is clear, palpable, and beyond all doubt. (Hear, hear.) Sir, I shall not enter into the question as to the reference of this subject to the people. The small paragraph I have read from Mr. Leatham’s speech contains very shortly the wisdom of ages, and I might appeal, if further testimony were required, to all the great men who have acted on the political stage of England. Mr. Pitt scouted at the idea; and it was never countenanced by any of the great public men of England.
My hon. friend says that at the time of the union of England and Scotland, there was a distinct reference to the people of Scotland. It is true that proclamations wire issued, calling upon the people to elect representatives from the boroughs on the question of union with England; but the hon gentleman, knows very well that Scotland had no creed representative institutions at that time—he knows that until the passage of the Reform Bill, elective institutions were only a mockery in Scotland. The boroughs were in the hands of close corporations, who elected whom they pleased, and it was quite impossible to obtain, by such means as an election afforded, a true expression of the opinion of the people of that country.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—The counties were the same.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—There was no country—although the people had a free and manly spirit—that had a more restricted constitution than Scotland till the year 1832. But the hon. gentleman ought to have looked upon the other side of the question, and told the House whether there was an election in England on the question of the union with Scotland. There was not, sir, and the idea would have been scouted by the leading minds of England had it been proposed. (Hear, hear.)
Sir, when the Imperial Parliament passed the Septennial Bill to save England from the disastrous consequences of the reign of the Stuarts—for although a Highland man, I say they were disastrous—when the members who were elected for three years declared themselves elected for seven, without going to the people; and when the union with Ireland […]
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[…] was accomplished without a reference to the people, did anyone say that these things were unconstitutional? Has my hon. friend not shown that Sir Robert Peel, who was the great protector of the liberties of Parliament, quoted these proceedings with approbation, as showing what the House of Commons could do if it chose? And so the honorable member for Montmorency [Joseph Cauchon] quoted the language of William Pitt, who, although his name in late days was connected with some things which did not meet the approbation of his party, was the leader of the Conservative party, and carried through to his deathbed the principles of his father the Earl of Chatham. He was supported by his party and by all the leading Whigs when he made his speech on the Irish union, in which he alleged that the Irish Parliament had full power to vote away those rights which it was elected to preserve.
His language was quoted by the honorable member, and did time permit, I would read it again to the House, for it is the language of wisdom and truth. My honorable friend from Peel [John Cameron] says—”Oh, that is all very well, but this is quite a different thing from the Irish union, because we have only a limited Constitution under our Constitutional Act.” That is quite true, but Ireland as well as this country had only a limited Constitution, under which not even a measure of supply could be laid before the Irish Parliament unless it had previously been sent to the English Government, approved, and then sent back for the approval and sanction of the Irish Parliament; and it was not till 1782 that this was changed, and the reference to England of such measures done away with. My honorable friend refers us to the language of the Constitutional Act to show how limited our Constitution is; but by that act we are empowered, in the widest language that could be employed, to make laws for the peace, welfare and good government of the people of Canada.
There could be no larger powers conferred upon us, and although it is quite true that our political existence is only statutory, that constitutionally our judges have no right to commit for contempt, and that we have no prescriptive rights such as those which the Imperial Parliament possesses, yet this is equally true—that we stand, with regard to the people of Canada, precisely in the same position as the House of Commons in England stands with regard to the people of England. (Hear, hear.)
And no man who values representative government would consent to sit here under a less extensive commission—no man will get up and disclaim the possession of such powers. But my honorable friend says we can only pass resolutions, and cannot change our Constitution except by addressing the Sovereign, praying Her to give them effect through the Imperial Parliament; and he argues from this that we ought to go to the people and have a new Parliament to do it. A new Parliament can, however, do nothing more than we can do. Sir, I believe in my conscience that this House, more than any House since 1841, represents truly and faithfully the people of Canada. If the members of this House do not represent the country—all its interests, classes, and communities—it never has been represented. (Hear, hear.) I believe that all classes and interests are represented here; but “if the House votes for this motion, it declares that it does not represent them. (Hear, hear.)
If we represent the people of Canada, then, in the words of the Constitutional Act, we are here to pass laws for the peace, welfare and good government of the country. But if we do not represent the people of Canada—if we declare so by passing this resolution—then what great criminals have we been in the past! If we do not represent them, if we have no right to represent them, then we have no power to pass one single bill and declare it to be law, even although it be a bill to establish a saw-mill. If we do not represent the people of Canada, we have no right to be here.
But if we do represent them, we have a right to see for them, to think for them, to act for them; we have a right to go to the foot of the Throne and declare that we believe it to be for the peace, welfare and good government of the people of Canada to form of these provinces one empire, presenting an unbroken and undaunted front to every foe; and if we do not think we have this right, we are unworthy of the commission we have received from the people of Canada. (Hear, hear, and cheers.)
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I would ask the Hon. Atty. Gen. West [John A. Macdonald], did he support Mr. Dunkin’s Temperance Bill.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I don’t remember. I don’t generally go for temperance bills. (Laughter.)
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—If the honorable gentleman did support that bill, he supported what, according to the rule he has laid down, is a violation of the Constitution.
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John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—I am afraid I did.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—Then he has been guilty of a violation of his own rule. (Hear, hear.)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I think I owe the Hon. Atty. Gen West [John A. Macdonald] a word of explanation. I was not so fortunate as to be in Parliament in 1861, and I have never happened to read the speech from which he quoted. I should be very sorry to misrepresent him, and perhaps I would have misrepresented him in making the statement I did, if I had read that speech. But I think he will bear me out in this, that at-the British American League, some fifteen years ago, he did vote and speak in favor of a legislative union.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West]—My hon. friend is mistaken.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—That body, at all events, did pass certain resolutions in favor of a legislative union. The hon. gentleman was a member of that body, and either voted for or against those resolutions—he can say which my impression is that he supported them. At all events, he will not deny that last session, in the debate on the Address, or on the motion of the honorable member for South Oxford [George Brown], he did express an opinion in favor of a Legislative union, as distinguished from a Federal union. It was shortly before the change of Government, and there was some difference between the two honorable gentlemen—the Hon. Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier] and the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald]—who were then sitting on this side. And in the committee, formed on the motion of the honorable member for South Oxford [George Brown], the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] voted against the Federative system, and declared himself in favor of the Legislative system in contradistinction to the other, and my impression was that he had uniformly held that ground. It now appears that in his speech of 1861 he shows that at that time he contemplated the possibility of a modified sort of Federation—a Federation very different, however, from the joint authority of the honorable member for South Oxford [George Brown], who argues that this is the very measure of the Convention of 1859.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—It is on the same basis.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—It is the same basis; but in the one, the federal authority has the preponderance—in the other the local authority.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—This includes the best features of both systems.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I will not enter farther into that. I only rose to make the remark I did with reference to the speech of the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] in 1861. (Cries of “Go on!”) Hon. gentlemen opposite are rather difficult to please. Not long since, when the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] was not in such good humor as he is just now, he complained that I inflicted myself too often on the House. Now they insist that I shall speak. (Laughter.)
I had intended to speak at some length on the general question. I came down to this House this afternoon, intending to speak at some length, but I confess that the view suggested by the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] had occurred to me, that it was not desirable on this motion to reopen the whole debate. And when my hon. friend and leader beside me (Hon. Mr. Dorion) got up, after I had intimated my intention to speak, and stated, on behalf of those who act with him—and I am a good party man, I follow my leader—that we had no desire to reopen the debate, but wished this matter to be got through tonight, I decided to waive my speech, believing that my views on all points of this scheme are sufficiently well known. (Laughter.) But I beg to assure hon. gentlemen that if on any point of the scheme they have any doubt as to what my views are, I shall answer any questions they may choose to put, as distinctly and as concisely as I can. (Hear, hear.)
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—My honorable friend has correctly stated the intention arrived at by this side of the House. It was not our intention to make any lengthened observations on the motion before the House. But honorable gentlemen opposite have not followed the rule they laid down with respect to this.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—I did.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Well, I think the Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] made a considerable speech to-night, and impressed his conclusions so strongly on the House as almost to drive away any ideas we may have had as to what we should say. (Laughter.)
I was rather struck by the manner in which the Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] took credit to himself for having refrained from insisting on objections on the ground of order to the motion of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron], after he had declared that he would avail himself of all parliamentary usages to prevent that motion being put. But the honorable gentleman forgets that English […]
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[…] authority, as well as former decisions in this House, sustain the motion of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron]. In 1843, when an Address was passed in this House, sustaining the stand which Hon. Mr. Baldwin had taken, in Sir Charles Metcalfe’s time—after it had passed, an amendment to the Address was moved, but the Speaker who occupied your place ruled the motion to be out of order, and an appeal being made to the House, the House sustained the appeal, and the Address was amended by the passing of an amendment moved by Mr. Boulton. I say, then, that the Honorable Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] need not have taken credit to himself for not having appealed against the decision of the Chair, because he must have known that the authorities were against him. (Hear, hear.)
The honorable gentleman is no doubt possessed of astuteness. No one can manifest greater astuteness than he displays in adapting himself to any new position in which he may find himself. There is not a public man in the country who has maintained his ground so long, in opposition to so many public questions on which he has at last submitted to change his opinions, and which he has finally carried in some shape or other, with the aid of his opponents. (Hear, hear.)
Was not the secularization of the Clergy Reserves opposed by that honorable gentleman from the time he came into Parliament in 1844, until 1854—a period of ten years? Did he not decree it was a spoliation of church property? Did he not oppose the demand to have the seigniors deprived of their rights? Did he not call that a spoliation also? Did he not oppose the introduction of the elective principle into the Legislative Council? Did he not, by his speeches and by his votes, declare it was a republican movement, and that we might as well give up the Constitution of this country and adopt that of the United States, as have an elected Legislative Council? But after having battled for ten years against these questions—the abolition of the Seigniorial tenure, and the elective Legislative Council—questions which caused the rebellion in Lower Canada—and that of the Clergy Reserves, which Lord Sydenham declared to be the cause of the rebellion in Upper Canada—questions which shook the foundations of society, and brought, not only civil strife, but war—the honorable gentleman gave up the opposition he had maintained for ten years, and in order to get a seat on the Treasury benches, and to keep his party in power, tamely submitted, and subjected himself to the humiliation of carrying out those measures.
Yet he claims to have been consistent! Those three great questions—and others which had occupied the attention of the country, and had caused the greatest political antagonism between parties—those questions were carried by the honorable gentleman, by acting on that side of the House with the very parties to whom he had been opposed in those questions; and with the aid of renegade reformers, he was permitted for nearly ten years to keep possession of the Treasury benches. (Hear, hear.) I am sorry to see that the same course has been pursued in the formation of this Government. What was done in 1854 was repeated in 1864. (Hear, hear.)
Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—Who moved that the honorable gentlemen, representing the Liberal party, should go into the Government?
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—I found they were going—with the engine at full speed—and that nothing could restrain them. (Laughter.) I found that all the drags that could be put upon the wheels could not stop them from going there. I saw it was impossible to stop them, and I said therefore—”In the name of Goodness, go. True, only those places are made for you, and three may as well go in, although I would prefer that there were three more, and then we might look to get some justice.”
Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—You voted against the motion, that the proposition for three members of the Opposition entering the Cabinet be rejected.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—The honorable gentleman is mistaken.
Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—I am not mistaken. I moved the resolution myself.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—I voted first against the basis.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—No, no.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—I stated that I would not commit myself to the explanations which had been made.
Hope Mackenzie [Oxford North]—If the honorable gentleman will permit me, I will read from the published proceedings of the meeting. The honorable gentleman did not vote against the basis:—
It was moved by Mr. Hope P. Mackenzie, seconded by Mr. McGiverin That we approve of the course which has been pursued by Mr. Brown in the negotiations with the Government, and that we approve of the project of a Federal union of the Canadas, with provision for […]
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[…] extension to the Maritime Provinces and the North-Western territory, as the basis on which the constitutional difficulties now existing could be settled.
There were thirty-four who voted for this motion. Five declined to vote either yea or nay, and among these is the name of the honorable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald]. (Hear, hear.)
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—It is laid down that “he that is not with you is against you.” (Hear, hear.) I will tell you why I did not vote. I did not charge my honorable friend from South Oxford [George Brown] with deceiving us in anything. He said he had a paper in his hand which contained the basis of the arrangement. He may have told us the whole of it, and I did not say it was his intention to mislead us. But I was not satisfied, notwithstanding the excellence of his memory that he should come with a document in his hand, and, instead of reading it to the meeting, undertake to give us verbally the substance of it. I did not like it at all; and when I refused to vote, it is clear I was not in favor of it.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Did you say anything against it?
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—I expressed my opinions to my friends around me.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Did you address the meeting against it?
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—There was no use in addressing the meeting—there was such a rush to carry it. (Laughter.) Now, Mr. Speaker, my honorable friend the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], in his usual style of addressing the House, after evading the real point in discussion—that of the propriety of referring this matter to the people—went off on another tack, and on several tacks. I never witnessed a more excruciating lashing than he administered to the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron]. He ridiculed the whole of the honorable gentleman’s motion. But he administered one consolation which, no doubt, the honorable gentleman found to be palatable. He said:—
There is one thing after all—though my hon. friend from Peel is mistaken in every particular—though, notwithstanding his constitutional lore, and ability, and eloquence, and everything which constitutes a statesman, he has done everything wrong—yet there is one thing he has done right—he has inserted in his motion the words “constitutional mode.”
These words have in them a peculiar charm in the estimation of the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], who ought to show us where he has found, in the practice of the English Parliament, a scheme of this kind introduced, then he might say that the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] is wrong; but when he brings in a measure that is at variance with English principles and practice, then I think we are at liberty to try to find ways and means for submitting it for the approval of the people.
If it is parliamentary usage for the Government to come down to this House, and, with the assistance of their political supporters, suddenly to change our Constitution, and take away our liberties, then, forsooth, are we not to take our own course as to whether or not we shall ask that their measure shall be referred to those who sent us here? The Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] scouts the idea of our being delegated only to work under the Constitution that we have. He forgets that when we make laws under our Constitution, we can change them ourselves at any time; but when we make a Constitution, and have it ratified by the Imperial Government, it does not lie in our power to change it by a simple resolution of this House.
He dwelt strongly on his belief that we were the repetitive men of our constituencies, and that through us the people had a voice in this House.
Well, if we were legislating for ourselves, and for our own people, under our Constitution as it stands, then I admit that we would be fully justified in carrying out any scheme that we might deem essential for the welfare of the province at large, or for any portion of it; but when he carries that principle so far as to say that we ought not to vote for having a measure of this kind—which will affect other provinces as well as our own—referred to the people, then, I say, he carries the principle to a most unwarrantable length. (Hear, hear.)
What can he advance in justification of such a course? He talks about it being unconstitutional. Why, they understand constitutional law in Nova Scotia, or ought to understand it as well as we do. But when we point to Nova Scotia, Ministers tell us that that province does not make laws for us.
Thomas D’Arcy McGee [Montreal West, Minister of Agriculture and Statistics]—They don’t know half as much.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Well, the Honorable Minister of Agriculture [Thomas D’Arcy McGee] has been down there, and it is a pity that his lectures and essays have failed to afford them all needful instruction. (Laughter.) At all events, they seem to appreciate the position in which the Conference at Quebec has placed them. But […]
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[…] the people of New Brunswick, sir, are they so far behind the age as not to understand how to manage their own affairs? We went down to ask them to assist us to get out of our difficulties, though this object was, at first, somewhat disguised. When they began to realize that it was to save us that the Conference took place, and was not organized for the purpose of benefiting them, the people of that province, if not the Government, refused to recognise and support the proceedings of the Conference. Now, if we had not the fact of the Lower Provinces having exercised their rights and privileges, we should have no chance whatever to appeal to precedents. And if the loyal people and governments of the Lower Provinces—people who are one day declared to be loyal, and the next annexationists and under American influence, according to their being for or against this scheme—if they do not know what are their rights, or in what manner to deal with this project, I think we had better teach them. I cannot help, however, feeling the conviction, after the character given of them by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture [Thomas D’Arcy McGee], that it is just as well we have got rid of them. (Laughter.)
But if, on the contrary, they are an intelligent people, and possess an intelligent Government, and that Government has adopted the course of referring that measure to the people, how can it be improper for us to advocate the same thing in Canada? Who are the hon. gentlemen that arrogate to themselves the right of telling us that we cannot exercise our privileges in this House, in voting in such a manner as we think best and most conducive to the interests of the people whom we represent? Those honorable gentlemen tell us that the motion of the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] is a most extraordinary one, in the face of the fact that the majority of these same gentlemen were voted out of office by this House only a short time ago, and that since then no appeal has been made to the people. There would be nothing very strange if they were voted out again. (Hear, hear.)
The Hon. Attorney General [John A. Macdonald] told the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron], though not in so many words, that he did not know what he was about; and in the course of the same speech remarked that if he wanted an argumentative, clear-headed, methodical and able speech, he could not have chosen a better one than that delivered by the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron]. Now, I think that that is one of the coolest remarks I have ever heard from an attorney general in this House. He rejoiced that the speech bore so strongly in opposition to the views of this side of the House, and then states that the hon. gentleman did not really know the effect of his own motion. If the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] thinks that is flattering, then, I must say that he is easily satisfied.
The hon. gentleman, however, I think, made out a very good case in favor of his amendment. His language may not be such as we have frequently heard in this House, during the past few days; but it is such as we generally hear on the hustings. When honorable gentlemen appear there previous to their election, they have no hesitation in saying that, if elected, they will go to Parliament for the purpose of carrying out the wishes of their constituents. I am sure my hon. friend from Peel [John Cameron] has often, and warmly denounced the invasion of the rights of the Church of England; the Clergy Reserves were being secularized, and I well remember that a motion was made in this House to the effect that before that measure should become law, it ought to be referred to the people; though that was a measure that only concerned our own internal affairs, we did not hear, at that time, a word about the unconstitutionality of referring it to the people.
The Honorable President of the Council [George Brown] has often declared that no government should be supported which did not pledge itself to bring in a measure for granting representation according to population; but it is infinitely worse to support a government which proposes to take away our Constitution, and at the same time deprive the people of having a voice in reference to it. My view of one of the duties of a representative is this: when a man goes voluntarily before the people, and tells them that he will vote against such and such measures, and then comes here and votes in the contrary direction, it is his duty to resign; for no man of spirit would stand up in this House after violating the promises he had made to the people.
My hon. friend the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald] says it is not constitutional to take a vote in the way proposed by the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron]. Sir, I am as anxious to maintain the Constitution of this country as any one can be; but when a motion of this nature comes up, I care not how the vote is to be taken, and it shall have my support. The hon. gentleman has violated the British Constitution in bringing in this measure, and as he has […]
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[…] done so, I am prepared to vote in any manner in which the expression of the people can be had upon it, before we legislate away their rights and their Constitution. I am, astonished to find that there is such a desire on the part of the members of this House to oppose the motion for submitting the question to the country. It is said that there is something behind the scenes to account for such singular conduct. Of these we get glimpses from day to day. Some of those reasons are patent to everyone. One of those is that the Coalition which has been formed out of the most incongruous materials, is supported by the greatest medley of politicians anybody ever saw.
Of course, it is to be supposed that we will have an election before another year is out. Members now supporting the Treasury benches, with some of whom I have worked for many years, have suffered very much from expensive elections through which they have been called upon to pass in that period. I know it is very unpalatable that they should have to go back again for re-election, after voting here against the express wishes of their constituents. Under this Coalition arrangement they evidently expect that they will be able to go to their constituencies and be returned by acclamation, because the two extremes—abandoning their old principles—coalesced. But it is a vain hope, sir. Let the elections for North Ontario and the town of Niagara tell how unfounded is the expectation.
The failure of the Hon. Provincial Secretary [William McDougall] was the first failure, and I may here say that I was sorry to see the breach of faith committed towards him on the part of the conservatives of that riding; but I am happy to see that he has got over it very comfortably by obtaining another county, which I hope he may long be enabled to keep. Notwithstanding this, however, they yet cling to the vain hope of a triumph when they next go before the people; but I am very much mistaken if the indignant voice of several constituencies will not urge some strong candidate against each of them, nor have I a doubt that the fact that these gentlemen endeavor to secure themselves from going to the people now by voting away the Constitution and the rights of the people, will furnish many of them an opportunity to find their political graves. (Hear, hear.)
Sir, it has been my misfortune to have been nearly nineteen years of my political life in the cold shades of opposition, but I am slight to stay an infinitely longer period on this side of the House, if that shall be the effect of my contending for the views which I have just expressed. I have always believed that I was here for the purpose of representing the constituency which sent me, and not for the purpose of misrepresenting them. If I were satisfied that I did not properly represent my constituency on any leading question coming before this House, I would scorn to sit here a moment longer than was absolutely necessary, until I could do so by their approval. But, sir, are there not members here who know full well that their conduct has been condemned by their constituents in the most unmistakable manner? And yet these hon. members rise up and express their virtuous indignation at our contending that the people should have a voice in reference to the adoption of this new Constitution.
John Scoble [Elgin West]—Do you mean any honorable gentleman from Upper Canada?
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Well, if the honorable gentleman will tell me that there are none from that section of the country whom the cap will fit, then I will say I do not mean any such.
John Scoble [Elgin West]—I do not myself know of any.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—Well, Mr. Speaker, I do not desire to be personal, and, therefore, I shall make no pointed references; but I see a number of gentlemen before me whom, I think, the cap will fit admirably. Sir, I think it is most monstrous that this House should refuse the people an opportunity of expressing themselves before their Constitution is taken away from them. I am delighted that I have the opportunity of voting for this motion.
I vote for it because it is in accordance with the expression of devotion to the interests of the people, which every honorable member feels when standing before his constituents. He has no hesitation, then, in declaring that he will seek to represent their views, instead of seeking to accomplish other objects than those which he has been delegated to promote. If there has been one question more than another before this House, for the last quarter of a century, upon which the views of the people ought to be clearly and distinctly ascertained, it is upon this proposal to destroy our Constitution; and if gentlemen will vote against it, then I hope that at the next general election, the people will pass such a judgment upon them as will prevent any such scheme ever being proposed […]
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[…] in any British Colonial Legislature, without the sanction of the people, during all future time. (Cheers.)
Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South] said—I have listened very attentively to the discussion on this question, and it is certainly most singular, as well as amusing, to hear the different views that have been expressed upon it by the advocates of the amendment. The hon. member for Peel [John Cameron], I am certain, felt that his resolution was the most consistent and reasonable one that could have been well introduced on the subject. The hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron], who seconded the motion, also, no doubt, thought it a very sensible one. I listened carefully to the arguments of both, and I find that they supported the motion from very different points of view. The hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] made a strong speech in favor of the scheme of Confederation which has been adopted by this House, and he said he introduced his motion for the purpose of having the people vote upon it, and with the expectation that they would carry it by a very large majority. The hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] took a very different view of the effect of the resolution, stating that he seconded it because he believed it would result in defeating the Confederation scheme.
Matthew Cameron [Ontario North]—I think the hon. member is quite mistaken. All I said was that I wished the people to have an opportunity of expressing themselves, so that we might ascertain whether or not they would prefer it to a legislative union.
Thomas Ferguson [Simcoe South]—I beg my hon. friend’s pardon; but that was not the object and aim the hon. gentleman had in view in seconding the motion. If his object was not to have the scheme rejected, then I cannot understand his language at all. I seldom agree with the views of the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown]; but on this occasion, I think he pointed out the inconsistencies of the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] in an excellent manner. But there are a few more left untouched, to some of which I will briefly allude. The hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] declared that his motion was designed to secure the approval of the people, and that it would result in their approval of the formation of a new nationality. The seconder of the motion supported it because it was designed to secure the condemnation of the scheme, and prevent us from obtaining that new nationality.
The hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] stated that he was in favor of having a dissolution of Parliament, so that a constitutional expression could be had through a general election. Now, for my own part, I doubt whether, if there were a dissolution of this House to-morrow, we would get a full, true and fair expression of opinion from the people at all. I believe that side-issues would creep in in every case—that the Conservative party would hang together in most instances, and the Reform party do the same, and that numerous local questions would interfere with the results sought to be obtained. My hon. friend from North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] declares himself in favor of having a direct vote of the people. Were it not that that is declared an unconstitutional method, I should say it was the only true course to be adopted, because it is the only way of properly testing public opinion on any one measure. (Hear, hear.)
Now, sir, the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] is one of the cleverest men in the province, but I must say that my experience with regard to his movements in Parliament is that he does not exhibit himself in anything like so clever or successful a manner as he does when pleading at the bar. I have never seen him taking a prominent position in this House, and playing his part in that position in a successful manner. If he had moved his amendment before the resolutions were adopted, I would have been able to have given him credit for sincerity, if not for ability, in advocating it; but after the resolutions have been passed, he brings up an amendment to another motion that is evidently hostile to the resolutions.
Well now, let us take a look at the assertions of the hon. member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald], and I think we will be able to see the inconsistency still more clearly. The position he takes is, that if these resolutions are referred to the people, and are by them voted down, every honorable member who voted for them in this House must immediately resign his seat. Now, sir, what would be the result of that principle as affecting the hon. member who moved and the hon. member who seconded the amendment now in your hands? Why, sir, instead of having them both on the floor of this House to carry out the views of the people, one of them certainly must leave, if the views of the honorable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] are carried out. I think every honorable gentleman must see clearly that whatever way you view the positions taken by the mover and seconder of this amendment, their course bears a contradiction on […]
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[…] he very face of it. And what would be the result of a general election? Those two honorable gentlemen, holding such dissimilar views with regard to the motion upon which they have agreed, would go to the country pulling different wires. The honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] will use his best endeavors to influence public opinion in such a manner that it will ratify the resolutions in favor of a Federal union, while the hon. gentleman who seconded the motion will go to the people with the very reverse idea. So you will find these two hon. gentlemen, who have joined so cordially to bring this motion before the House, will disagree on every point the moment after it would be carried, and cause the utmost confusion among the people. I cannot understand the matter at all. I do not see how they can defend their consistencies, either before this House or before the country.
There was not a single word said by the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] or the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], with reference to the inconsistency of those two hon. gentlemen, to which everyone in this House will not cordially assent. We voted fey a large majority, the other night, in favor of those resolutions. I was in favor, when I came here, of having the question referred to the people; and I only wish that such could be yet done; but when I came to understand the emergencies by which we were surrounded, and saw that we were threatened with the loss of the Reciprocity treaty and the bonded system, in addition to the continuation of the passport system, and were also threatened with the putting of American gunboats on the lakes, and without access to the seaboard except upon and by sufferance of the United States Government, I came to the conclusion that it was important for us to take such steps as would procure, in the shortest manner possible, the assistance of English money, English soldiers and English gunboats for our defence, and that, therefore, there was the most urgent necessity for sending some members of the Government home to England, to bring those resolutions before the Imperial Parliament during the present session, and making such arrangements for our defence as it seems we must make.
These were the reasons why I voted for a set of resolutions which, I am free to confess, I would not otherwise have supported. Having voted for them on Friday night, along with a large majority of the members of this House, with the full expectation that everything was to be hurried through, and the session brought immediately to a close, so that the leading members of the Government could go on an important mission to the Mother Country, I understood the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] to have voted with the same understanding. And what are we told now?
Why, that there is no necessity for haste in the matter at all; that there ought to be a new election, occupying two months at least, before a return could be made. But is it seriously proposed that during all this time we are to remain in a defenceless state, and without any prospect of having any for another year? Why, the honorable gentleman must see that the proposal bears such a contradiction on the very face of it that he ought to withdraw it.
These resolutions have been passed by this House, or they have not been passed at all. If they have been adopted by the Parliament of Canada in a constitutional way, then in voting for this motion we would be only stultifying ourselves, mocking our constituents, and insulting Her Majesty, for we would be putting ourselves in the most false and inconsistent position in which the representatives of any people ever placed themselves, on this continent. (Hear, hear.) I know the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] laid down the doctrine before he voted for the resolutions, that they ought to go to the people before their final consummation, and to that doctrine everyone must assent; but when he voted for the resolutions, as we all did, on the ground that there was a necessity for their immediate adoption, I say it is clearly contradictory for him to bring up this motion after the resolution has been carried by so large a majority.
I am sorry that he has thought fit to bring forward this motion at this stage of the proceedings, and I must say—and am sorry to have to say it too—that I think he has accomplished very little good for his party or for his constituents, since he has been in Parliament. (Hear, hear.) I voted for the resolutions because I saw there was a necessity for doing so, and after having thus voted end Friday night, I am not going to nullify that vote on Monday night, by supporting the amendment which the honorable member has proposed, more to gratify his own notions, I fear, than to do the country good. It has been said—and very correctly said, I think—that if a new House should be elected, the members of that House would have to discuss the matter over again, and take another vote upon it. The honorable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] […]
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[…] seems to desire that the question should be referred to the people, not by means of a general election, but in such a manner as to have a direct yea or nay upon it. Well, sir, if that mode were adopted, and the scheme were not sustained, most of the members of this House ought to go home at once and resign their seats. And what then? Why, sir, new elections would have to take place to fill the vacant seats, and the summer would be nearly gone before we should have returns. We should then have to explain matters to the newly-elected members in order to convince them that the measure is all right, and in all probability more than six months would transpire before we could record our votes upon it. (Hear, hear.)
I think it would be most unadvisable to allow the motion now before the House to be applied in either way. But, sir, I must say that unless the arrangements in respect to the local governments are made satisfactory to the people of Upper Canada, I shall vote to cast them overboard. But when I look at the fact that the honorable gentlemen who compose the Government are the ablest which both political parties could furnish, and went together with the approval of the large majority of their political followers, I think it is not our place to relieve them from the responsibility now resting upon them, of carrying out this measure in a manner that I hope will prove satisfactory to the people. If we took it out of their hands, we would be assuming a responsibility that properly pertains to them; and for my part, I am willing to leave the responsibility on their shoulders at the present time. If they will not do what is right for us, I shall take the liberty of recording any vote against them, and thus give them a practical expression of my opinion. (Cheers.)
Lucius Huntington [Shefford] said—I do not propose to occupy the attention of the House by any lengthened remarks. I think it is most singular that so many honorable gentlemen on the floor of this House should feel so deeply and be so anxious to discuss the subject upon which such great unanimity is said to prevail. It is strange that hon. gentlemen should be so full of the fire of speaking, that half a dozen are jumping to their feet at once to catch the Speaker’s eye. (Laughter.)
At a previous stage of the debate, I noted a number of points on which I desired to make some remarks, but I forbore. There are a few of them, however, that relate to the question before us and that, I think, ought to be brought under the notice of this House. I did not think it surprising, sir that the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown] should be the first to put in his oar this evening, on behalf of the Government. He is supposed to belong to a party that is deeply sensitive to public opinion, and the honorable gentleman himself has had some intimate relations with public opinion in Upper Canada for several years past; while the Honorable Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier], who sits beside him, so far from caring about consulting the views of the country, is reported to have said at the dejeuner at Montreal that he did not consult anybody in making up his mind with regard to anything.
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—That is quite correct. I do not consult anybody in making up my mind.
Lucius Huntington [Shefford]—I say that the Hon. Attorney General East [George-Étienne Cartier] can afford to sit there and—I won’t say despise—but disregard the views of the people, and arrogate to himself the right to know what is better for the people than they can possibly know themselves. But the hon. member for South Oxford [George Brown], when he came to put in his oar fairly, surprised me. I felt that he was entirely too severe upon my honorable friend the member for Peel [John Cameron]. It was easy to see that the strong feeling of friendship for the Government which he entertained prevented him from making his argument tell in favor of his position as strongly as he might have done. I admired the eloquence which rendered his speech so acceptable to the members of this House, but I felt that he was afraid of offending his friends in the Government. He seemed to select those hammers that would give the lightest blows.
He admitted that if an appeal to the people were taken, the honorable gentlemen on the Treasury benches would come back to their seats with, perhaps, even a more numerous following than now. There was one point of his argument that has remained unanswered. He said that in view of the position which the Confederation scheme occupied in the Lower Provinces, and in view of the strong expression in its favor given by this House, there was no further need of haste—no necessity for pressing the resolutions further until the people should be consulted. That position has not been met, and cannot be met. (Hear, hear.)
Sir, it is absurd to stand up, now, and declare that there is a panting, and a […]
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[…] hungering and thirsting among the people for having this scheme put into immediate operation. I do not mean to say that the scheme has not been talked of among the people, but the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron], who has been extensively abroad among the people, has told us that there is the greatest apathy in the public mind; but, sir, that apathy does not exist among the people alone. I state it fearlessly, sir, before honorable gentlemen, without any fear of contradiction, that the greatest apathy exists in this House itself. I have seen the votes of honorable gentlemen counted in favor of the scheme, whom we all know have no faith in it, but who have been drawn into casting their vote for it by former party leanings. (Hear, hear.)
Having come to the conclusion that something must be done, and this being the only thing they had an opportunity of doing, they recorded their votes for it. The faithlessness of the people has been well represented.
Mr. Speaker, while the great leader of the Reform party finds it necessary to stand up here and throw dust in our eyes, by trying to make it appear that the people, to whose touch he has been so sensitive in times past, need not now be consulted, the Honorable Attorney General [John A. Macdonald] took a different course. He was asked for precedents, and told us that when violent constitutional changes had been made in England, the precedents for the course proposed by this motion were founded. He talked to us about the union of Ireland, in connection with which the career of Pitt—a career that was distinguished in Britain, but which was of such a character that, though signalized throughout Europe, it yet produced a reaction that caused England to fall back in the race of national progress for many years. The result of his course was such that some of the brightest names on English history left the reform principles to which they had been attached, and connected themselves with the Pitt party, and the same will be the result here of the game now being played by honorable gentlemen opposite.
This is the precedent which, in a British constitutional country of the nineteenth century, is brought up and used as a whip held over our backs. Why, sir, we have no French revolutions at this day. But they say we have an American revolution. We are told by Ministers themselves, and by speakers, under their cheers, that we have to choose between this scheme of Confederation and annexation to a neighboring republic, and they talk to us as if there was no time to lose—that one or other will be accomplished immediately. How do we know but it may happen while our Ministers are gone to England, and that when they return they will find the flag of the United States floating over their country. Sir, there is no more danger of anything of that kind happening now than there was when this Government was formed last spring. When the honorable and gallant knight at the head of the Government [Étienne Pascal Taché] was called upon to form an Administration, and brought his Government before the House, he did not then hold up to us the danger of invasion, unless we supported his Government.
The Government did not then inform us that if we did not form a Federal union we would be annexed to the United States. All these threats on their part have grown out of accidents that have happened to their policy since last June. But, Mr. Speaker, the game that is being played now is one that cannot but provoke a conservative reaction in this country. Do honorable gentlemen believe that it is really for the best interests of this country that so many honorable gentlemen, who entertained reform views, are found voting to do away with the elective principle in the constitution of the Legislative Council—a principle that has been held sacred in the eyes of so vast a number of the people of Upper Canada, that to accomplish it has been the battle-cry of many honorable men in times past, ab uno disco omens? The Honorable Attorney General [John A. Macdonald], as the leader of his party, may look with favor upon the conservative reaction which seems to await us.
We can afford to go back to that dark period of Eng. lash constitutional history, when Toryism, profiting by the unstable politics of France, ruled England for fifty years, created the public debt, and stifled the progress of free opinion. It is from this period that the Hon. Attorney General [John A. Macdonald] quotes precedents against an appeal to the people—a dark period, in which the rights of the people were sacrificed to a want of faith in them. Shall we copy such examples? Shall we attempt to hold up the terrors of the American war—the dreaded instability of American institutions—to frighten ourselves into dread of our own people? Shall we copy the reactionary abuses of the times of Pitt, to the extent that we refuse to consult the people upon the great revolution proposed here? (Hear, hear.) The people were surprised by the political earthquake which took place here last spring. They were astonished by what took place, but they were told that there was no risk for them; that it was necessary for the defence of the country that these men should come […]
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[…] together. And now, when the proposition is brought before this House to place the matter before the people, we are told that there are certain precedents against such a course, such as the union of Scotland and the union of Ireland, which I am sure must be particularly strong in the view of my friend the Honorable Minister of Agriculture [Thomas D’Arcy McGee]. We are told that we must accept this scheme at once without a moment’s delay, or it would slip through our fingers. I feel, sir that this is a point which ought to be made—that the ground on which this motion is opposed, that the people having elected their representatives, they have a right to look to them.
And if this country was annexed to the United States, if this Parliament, is supreme, if it is able to upset one Constitution, why not another? The doctrine is a new one. It may be fortified by strong precedents, but it is not fortified by constitutional practice in this country—it is not fortified by the opinion of the people of this country, which is, that the representative is not elected to frame its Constitution. It is said by the honorable member for South Oxford [George Brown] that a number of elections have taken place, and that the people are in favor of the scheme. But what elections have taken place? There have been a few for the Upper House; but even the hon. member for South Ontario [Thomas Gibbs], a gentleman who comes in for a Ministerial constituency represented formerly by the present Vice-Chancellor of Upper Canada, even that honorable gentleman is defeated and another gentleman is elected in his place. That honorable gentleman is the first fruits of the elections, and he comes here and tells us that he pledged himself to his constituents that this subject should be appealed to the people—and more than that, he tells us that they were afraid he would support the Government on the details. It is an unhappy day for this country when it is found necessary to quote precedents from the most unpopular period in European history in support of the course that is being pursued. (Hear, hear.)
Joseph Dufresne [Montcalm]—I did not intend to say anything upon this matter, and I should abstain from doing so, were it not for a statement made by the honorable member for Lotbinière [Henri Joly]. He stated that parties in Canada upon this question were about equally divided. I deny that. I know too well sentiment in Lower Canada. I say that the bulk of the people in Lower Canada look upon an election as an oath—they want to use it only as a matter of necessity—they look upon it as and immorality. I know that there are certain parties in Lower Canada in favor of an election, but the bulk of the people are opposed to it.
There are also a few honorable gentlemen in this House who may be in favor of it, but in my opinion they are wrong. I can class those who are in favor of an election in Lower Canada—these are the Rouges. Under the present circumstances, they say:—”We are only about fifteen or sixteen; what difference will it make if we lose five or six of our number; and who knows that the States will not come here in our country with a few thousand greenbacks and help us?” (Laughter.)
I only say this as a supposition. Then the second is the class who sell liquor in the day, and those who sell without a license—who are almost looked upon as public robbers. The third class are the drunkards—those who go on a spree for several days and pay nothing for it. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) Everyone knows that the accounts are sent in and are paid. Of course these words are not applicable to anyone in this House; but those are the only ones who are in favor of an election. The bulk of the people are opposed to it; they consider it as an immorality; and if any one doubts that, I wish they would go out into my part of the country and inquire for themselves. (Hear, hear.)
Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—The language used by the hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron], on one or two points, requires some notice. He boldly asserted that he did not believe that there was any serious agitation in Upper Canada for constitutional changes. He boldly asserted that an air arrangement could have been made, and that till it was made the people could get on. Now, here is the language he used some years ago. In his speech on the Address in 1862, the following occurs:—
I mean to say that the refusal of righteous demands will lead to unpleasant and unprofitable quarrels. The time has come when 300,000 Upper Canadians will be heard on the floor of the House, and if this is not allowed, the results that will follow will be awful.
That is the language of the gentleman who has charged us with making “highfaluting” speeches. I did address the meeting held in Toronto, and a more unanimous meeting, perhaps, never was held in Toronto. I confined myself entirely to the matter under discussion, and made no appeals of any kind. I leave that to the honorable member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] himself. Then he states again—in […]
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[…] the debate of 1862 on representation by population—“No man with Anglo-Saxon blood in his veins will submit to the present state of affairs.” (Hear, hear.)
And yet he accuses us now of taking hasty action in this matter. When the Macdonald-Sicotte Administration was formed, he devoted himself to denouncing the Hon. Provincial Secretary [William McDougall], who was then Commissioner of Crown Lands [Alexander Campbell]. He used all his power in abusing that gentleman, and he prophesied what the result would be when that gentleman appeared again before the people of Upper Canada. I gave my opinion plainly at the time, and I do not believe that any person used such strong language as the honorable gentleman himself. The question had come to be one that must be settled in one way or the other. It was quite clear to me for one, and to the people of Upper Canada, that the Federation project was the only thing we could have to remedy the state of affairs in which they were placed. (Hear, hear.)
But I had forgotten one point in regard to the Coalition arrangements being made to carry on the public affairs. When the liberal members held a meeting to consider the propositions made by their Government, the honorable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] attended and took an active part in the business of the meeting, and heartily approved of the project. He declined, it is true, to vote yea or nay on the herb resolution, approving the policy proposed, but that was merely because the resolution was so worded as to expressly approve of Mr. Brown’s share in the perfecting of the arrangements made. This is proved by the terms of the second resolution, which was moved by the honorable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] himself, (Hear, hear.)
The motion was in the following terms—”That the proposition for at least three members of the Opposition entering the Government be accepted.” Mr. Mackenzie of Lambton, moved in amendment—”That the proposition for three members of the Opposition entering the Cabinet be rejected, and that the proposition for the settlement of our sectional difficulties receive an outside support.” The amendment only received eleven votes; the eloquence of the honorable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] carried the meeting against my resolution.
That honorable gentleman also moved the third resolutions as follows—”That it is all-important that Mr. Brown should be one of the party to enter the Cabinet.” Only three gentlemen—viz., Hon. Mr. Brown and Messrs. Burwell and Scatcherd—voted against this. Now, sir, if the honorable member was sincere then, how are we to account for his course now? (Hear, hear.) Was he deceiving us then, or is he speaking against himself now? (Hear, hear.) Considering the part that honorable gentleman had in organizing the Government, it did seem very extraordinary that he should have repeatedly reproached honorable gentlemen opposite with having formed a coalition.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Hear, hear.
Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—Was it possible that he urged the formation of the Government with a view to destroy the liberals who had entered it? I believed then that the best course to pursue was to give the Conservative Government a thorough outside support. I have always had a strong objection to party coalitions. I felt then, as I do now, that they may lead to later results not foreseen at the time, and all that I wished was that the Liberal party should give their support to the Administration for the purpose for which it was formed, that support to cease when the object should be accomplished.
The honorable member for Cornwall [John Sandfield Macdonald] thought differently, and I do not think it becomes that hon. gentleman to get up now and denounce those hon. gentlemen for the course they have taken. He is not able to say that he did not vote. He voted as here recorded, and with the desire that I have always had to have everything of this kind recorded to prevent future misunderstanding, I took the trouble to have a certified copy of the proceedings, from which I have just quoted. When any honorable member took that course in the caucus, I think he was clearly bound to adhere to the same course. (Hear, hear.)
Thomas Parker [Wellington North]—Mr. Speaker, I had some intention of voting for the resolution in your hands, sir, until I heard the speech of the mover, the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron]; but that gentleman has quite convinced me that I ought not to do so. (Hear and laughter.) He proved most conclusively that the proposed Confederation was in itself a most satisfactory and desirable measure, and that the internal state of these provinces, as well as the threatening aspect of foreign affairs, were conclusive reasons for its immediate adoption. Defences, he told us, were immediately required, and that they could only be made effective by first uniting the provinces. Accepting this argument and others advanced by that hon. member, the conclusion is that the necessity for Confederation is imperative and immediate. But, sir, how does this […]
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[…] agree with the terms of his resolution, if we should adopt it, and this House be dissolved, and members sent to the country for election before the new House could adopt the measure? The House of Commons would be dissolved, and the Imperial Parliament could not legislate on it fora year or more—(hear, hear)—so that by the course proposed, the country would still remain, for a year or two longer, exposed to the dangers and difficulties so eloquently described by the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron]. (Hear.) If that hon. member had voted against the previous question, and thereby asserted the right to amend or refer the Address before adoption, he could now very properly ask and claim our support to this resolution. But he not only voted for the previous question, but for the Address, and deliberately chose the present time to make this motion. Under these circumstances, he at least has no claim upon the support of the House. (Hear.)
Having made a solemn contract with this House on the main question, he now turns round and seeks to upset the arrangement of his own making. His course is best explained by simple illustration. Suppose four or five gentlemen had entered into a unanimous agreement, when one turns round and says, “I was and am in favor of all that has been done; but unless you now attach this condition, I draw back and retire from the atonement.” (Hear.) That was conduct which could not be approved either in public or private affairs. The position of the seconder of the resolution—the hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron]—is entirely different, because he, like myself, asserted by his vote on the previous question, the desire to have the resolutions amended. The honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] told us, even to-day, that this he considered the proper time to place his motion before the House. The resolution itself is highly proper, and one for which I would have voted, had it been made before the adoption of the Address. (Hear.)
Now it is entirely out of place. The hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] remarked just now, in the course of his speech, that this Constitution, if adopted, will soon have to be amended, and therefore, he said, we ought not to accept it. I entirely dissent from that opinion. Why, sir, the British Constitution is but a series of amendments made from time to time—a growth by successive amendments, the objection of my hon. Friend is one of the main reasons why I am willing to accept this scheme.
I believe it will admit of amendment as time goes on, so that it may be made to meet the changing wants and requirements of the people. My hon. friend from North Ontario [Matthew Cameron] referred to the seductive influence of the breath of the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown], when breathed into the ears of members, and its magical effects in relaxing the knees, and then, sir, he looked, by way, I presume, of application, at the hon. member for West Elgin [John Scoble]. (Loud laughter.) Now I have always regarded the hon. member for West Elgin [John Scoble] as one of the most reliable members of this House. (Laughter.)
Well, if my honorable friend looked more particularly in this direction, I have nothing to add to the reasons already given in explanation of my vote.
The question before me was—”Should we adopt or reject the resolutions?”—and agreeing with the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] that something should be done immediately, I voted for them. I think it would be most outrageous if, after they have been sanctioned by a vote of this House, we were to nullify them by any subsequent proceedings. If the resolutions were to be referred to the people at all, it should have been before they received the sanction of this House. Are we to turn round to-day and reverse what we did on Saturday last?
I repeat, sir, that I think the resolutions should have gone to the country—and if my opinion had prevailed, they would have been referred—but not now, after their deliberate sanction by this House; to do so would stultify the Legislature. Our duty is now, in my opinion, to carry them into effect in good faith, and not stand shilly-shallying—blowing hot and cold with the same breath. I, sir, stand by what I have done, and by what this House has done, and shall vote against the amendment of the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron]—(hear)—who, I think, occupies a most inconsistent position. (Hear, hear.)
There is another point, sir, to which I desire to allude.
The hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] stated that he voted for the Address as a private individual—as he would have voted on the question if out of this House.
Now, sir, no member can shield himself under such a subterfuge. No member can separate his private from his legislative character in this House. If the explanation of the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] be the general doctrine and practice of Parliament, I should like to have it understood, because there are occasions when it would be very convenient to […]
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[…] avail one’s self of it. (Hear.)
I look on this motion—I refer now to the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron], and except the hon. member for North Ontario [Matthew Cameron]—as an attempt to make a little capital at the expense of members who will save its supporters by voting it down. The hon. member for Peel [John Cameron] drew a fearful picture of our exposed and defenceless state—of the dark and threatening cloud gathering over us—of the necessity of setting our house in order by a union of these provinces.
Now, sir, if I half agreed with him, I should never think of bringing in an amendment causing delay and continued exposure to increasing danger, but would go in strongly for the adoption of measures against such a state of things, the very first hour it was possible This resolution, from the time at which it is moved, sir. Should be voted down at once. The House owes it to itself to give it no countenance at this s stage of the proceedings. Had it been moved before the previous question, I would have voted for it; but as it comes up fifer the adoption of the main resolutions, I will stand by the solemn and deliberate action we have taken—I will stand the responsibility of the House and vote against it (Hear.)
Joseph Rymal [Wenworth South]—Being one of the eight members from Upper Canada who voted against the resolutions of the Quebec Conference, and whose names, I expect, will long be cherished by the people of that section, I presume, Mr. Speaker, that I may vote for the amendment now in your hands, without being charged with inconsistency, as some honorable gentlemen have been during this discussion. I should not, however, have risen to address you, sir, but for a personal mat term that was drawn into this debate, in reference to myself and my connection with the constituency I have the honor to represent—or misrepresent, as some people say. (Laughter, and hear, hear.)
According to the doctrines held by the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald], it would appear that after I had been elected to this House, I have no business to refer any matter for decision to or consult the feelings of the people who sent me, but to act as I thought best for their interests. Allow me to dissent from this doctrine; but I have been obliged to exercise my own judgment, and I have done so honestly, independently, and fearlessly, irrespective of the consequences that may result to me, or of the half-uttered threats held out over me.
These things, sir, have no influence over me; I shall pursue the course I think best for the interests of my country and of those who sent me here. (Hear, hear.)
It matters little whether I enter Parliament again or not; but while I retain my position as one of the representatives of the people, I shall act fearlessly. (Hear, hear.)
I regret that the Hon. President of the Council [George Brown], when speaking of my constituency and myself, should have seen fit to taunt me with and sneer at the narrow majorities by which I have upon occasions been returned to this House.
George Brown [Oxford South, President Executive Council]—Not at all; quite the contrary.
Joseph Rymal [Wenworth South]—But I say; for, Mr. Speaker, I can distinctly recollect when an honorable gentleman, holding a high position in this Government, was twice actually defeated—(hear, and laughter)—and I dare say that the support I have given that hon. gentleman has on some occasions contributed to the narrowness of my majorities. (Hear, hear, and laughter.)
The question was then put on John Cameron [Peel]’s amendment, which was negatived on the following division:—
|Editors’ Note (2019): John Cameron’s amendment is as follows:
That all the words after “That” be left out, and the following inserted instead thereof: “an humble Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor General, praying that His Excellency, in view of the magnitude of the interests involved in the resolutions for the union of the colonies of British North America, and the entire change of the Constitution of this province, will be pleased to direct that a constitutional appeal shall be made to the people, before these resolutions are submitted for final action thereon to the consideration of the Imperial Parliament.”
YEAS—Messieurs Biggar, Bourassa, Cameron (North Ontario), Cameron (Peel), Caron, Coupal, De Boucherville, Dorion (Drummond and Arthabaska), Dorion (Hochelaga), Dufresne (Iberville), Fortier, Gagnon, Gaudet, Geoffrion, Gibbs, Holton, Houde, Huntington, Joly, Albrecht, Vigor, Laframboise, Lajoie, Macdonald (Cornwall), Macdonald (Toronto West), Morrison, O’Halloran, Paquet, Perrault, Pouliot, Ross (Prince Edward), Rymal, Scatcherd, Thibaudeau, Wallbridge (North Hastings), and Webb.—35.
NAYS—Messieurs Abbott, Alleyne, Archambeault, Ault, Beaubien, Bellerose, Blanchet, Bowman, Bown, Brousseau, Brown, Burwell, Carling, Attorney General Cartier, Cartwright, Cauchon, Chapais. Cockburn, Cornellier, Cowan, Currier, Denis, De Niverville, Dickson, Duckett, Dufresne (Montcalm), Dunsford, Evanturel, Ferguson (Frontenac), Ferguson (South Simoe), Gait, Gaucher, Harwood, Haultain, Higginson, Howland, Huot, Irvine, Jackson, Jones (South Leeds), Knight, Langevin, LeBoutillier, Attorney General Macdonald, MacFarlane, Mackenzie (Lambton), Mackenzie (North Oxford) Magill, McConkey, McDougall, McGee, McGiverin, McIntyre, McKellar, Morris, Parker, Pinsonneault, Pope, Poulin, Poupore, Powell, Raymond, Rémillard, Robitaille, Rose, Ross (Champlain), Ross (Dundas), Scoble, Shanly, Smith (East Durham), Smith (Toronto East), Somerville, Stirton, Street, Sylvain. Thompson, Tremblay, Walsh, Wells, White, Willson, Wood, Wright (Ottawa County), and Wright (East York).—84.
- (p. 1021)
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—I have an amendment to offer, sir, which I trust will not be found open to some of the objections taken to the last one by the Hon. Attorney General West [John A. Macdonald]. I will read the motion, sir, and offer but a few remarks upon it, for it is not my purpose to detain the House myself, or to provoke a lengthy debate. I move, sir:—
That all the words after “That” be left out, and the following inserted instead thereof:—”the said resolution be referred to a committee of the whole House, in order so to amend it as to express the earnest hope of this House, that any Act founded on the resolutions of the Conference of Delegates held at Quebec in October last, which may be passed by the Imperial Parliament, will not go into operation until the Parliament of Canada shall have had the opportunity of considering the provisions thereof, and shall, after the next general election, pray Her Majesty to issue Her Royal Proclamation to give effect to the same”
Several Hon. Members—That is the same thing as the last amendment.
Luther Holton [Chateauguay]—Hon. gentlemen state it is the same thing, but they will see that it is not at all the same. This resolution does not propose to contradict or go back upon the previous action of the House, but to supplement it by asking that any act passed by the Imperial Parliament, founded on the resolutions of the Conference, may be submitted to the House and to the country previous to its adoption. (Hear.)
Mr. Speaker, this is a matter of great importance, but I can now only state the purport of the resolution; for, as I said before, I am not about to provoke a debate. This whole matter proceeds upon the theory that the people of Canada desire a change in their Constitution. Of course we know that the supreme sovereignty rests with the Imperial Parliament—of course we know that the power to change our Constitution and remodel it in any way rests there—but we are proceeding on the assumption that the Imperial Parliament will acquiesce in our desire for a change, and in the nature of the change desired.
Well, sir, the gentlemen on the Treasury benches, having the confidence of the majority of this House, and presumably the confidence of the majority of the people also, are going to approach Her Majesty’s Government in England and ask them to submit to the Imperial Parliament a change in the Constitution of this country; but, sir, these gentlemen have not explained to us precisely how these resolutions aerate be translated into an Act of Parliament—they have not explained to us which of these resolutions are to form part of our new Constitution, and which of them are to be carried out in some other way. But, Mr. Speaker, it will be of the last importance to the people of this country to know what their Constitution really is to be before its final enactment. (Hear, hear.)
I would recall, sir, especially to hon. gentlemen from Lower Canada, the experience of the past in reference to this matter. In 1852 Mr. Hinck’s Government carried through this House an Address in favor of a change in the constitution of the Legislative Council. They sought, by that Address, a change in the Union Act, operating a change in the constitution of the Legislative Council only. But instead of such a change in the Constitutional Act as was desired by the House, power was given to the Legislature to effect such a change, and along with that, the two-thirds clause of the Union Act was repealed—nobody to this day knows how. (Hear.) What assurance have we then—what assurance can we have—that a similar event will not occur now? Hon. gentlemen from Lower Canada must have a vivid recollection of our own very recent experience in constitutional changes.
The change actually made in the Union Act in 1852 was one which was deprecated by all the representatives from Lower Canada—by the entire people of Lower Canada—and was brought about in a way which has never yet been satisfactorily explained. Well, sir, presuming that the people of this country are making for themselves a new Constitution—recognising the power of the Imperial Government to effect any such change as they may deem fit—but also recognising the well-known desire of the Imperial Parliament to meet our views in the matter—I propose that this House shall pray, in this Address, that any act founded on the resolutions of the Conference which met in Quebec in October last, may only be put in force on the prayer of both branches of the Legislature of Canada. With these few words, explanatory of my resolution, I place it in your hands. (Hear, hear.)
Antoine-Aimé Dorion [Hochelaga]—I desire, as I did with reference to the amendment of the hon. member for Peel [John Cameron], not to discuss at length the motion of my hon. friend the member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton], but simply to explain the object of that motion in a few words. The House has just rejected an amendment, asking that an appeal should be made to the people of […]
- (p. 1022)
[…] this province before the Imperial Government is asked to legislate on the Address of this House. Now, the object of the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] is to ask that the Constitution adopted in England may not go into force until it shall have been submitted to the Legislature of this province, after the next general election, and until an Address shall have been adopted, asking that it be put in force. We ask the Imperial Government to-day, by the Address which has just been adopted, to submit to the Imperial Legislature an act for the Confederation of the British North American Provinces. If, in place of Confederation, the Imperial Parliament were to establish a legislative union of the provinces, I ask those honorable members of this House who protest against a legislative union, how they are to present themselves before their electors—after having refused to consult them—if they also refuse to declare that they desire to consider the measure again when it is brought back to us, after passing the Imperial Parliament?
All we ask by this motion is that the act which is to be passed may be submitted to our Legislature, and ratified and approved by this House, before it is definitely put in force—in short, we ask to be allowed to refuse the new Constitution if it should not suit us. We must not forget what occurred in 1856, when we asked the Imperial Parliament to change the constitution of the Legislative Council, and to render it elective.
Let it not be forgotten that they gave us a measure different from that we had asked for. We were, it is true, empowered to render the Legislative Council elective, but, at the same time, a clause was struck out of the Act of Union, which clause declared that the basis of the representation in the Legislative Assembly could not be changed without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the Legislature. And with that fact staring us in the face, what assurance have we to-day that the Imperial Government will not give us a legislative union, with representation based upon population, in place of a Confederation? What is to prevent them from changing the clause relative to the Legislative Council, and applying to it also the principle of representation based upon population? (Hear, hear.) Well, it is with a view of avoiding the possibility of any change of that nature that we now propose this amendment.
There are many hon. members of this House who fear that in view of the refusal of the Maritime Provinces to assent to this scheme, England may give us a Confederation of the two Canadas. And I ask—when we find the Ministry telling us, over and over again, that it is absolutely necessary to effect a constitutional change, that the matter is urgent, that even one week’s delay cannot be given, nor the time to discuss the amendments we desire to propose to the scheme; that they must have a measure at once, otherwise the most dreadful evils must ensue—I ask, is it to be fancied, for one moment, that the Imperial Government will consent to force the Lower Provinces into Confederation. And what is to prevent that Government from changing the scheme so as to make it applicable to the two Canadas alone? (Hear, hear.) Here is what will happen, or at all events what may very well happen: when our Ministers reach England, and urge upon the Imperial Government the necessity for a change in the Constitution as regards Canada, that Government, seeing that the Lower Provinces do not desire Confederation, will pass a measure for the Confederation of the two provinces, leaving to the Maritime Provinces the right to enter that Confederation whenever they think proper.
That is very possible, and the only way to provide against such a contingency is to address Her Majesty, praying that any Imperial measure, relating to constitutional changes, may not take effect until it shall have been submitted to, and ball have received the ratification of, the Legislature of Canada. (Hear, hear.)
George-Étienne Cartier [Montreal East, Attorney-General East]—Mr. Speaker, in reply to what the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion] has just said, I shall merely tell honorable members of this House that they need not take alarm at the apprehensions and predictions of that honorable gentleman. I have already declared in mv own name, and on behalf of the Government, that the delegates who go to England will accept from the Imperial Government no act but one based on the resolutions adopted by this House, and they will not bring back any other. (Hear, hear.)
I have pledged my word of honor and that of the Government to that effect, and I trust that my word of honor will have at least as much weight with this House and the country as the apprehensions of the honorable member for Hochelaga [Antoine-Aimé Dorion]. (Cheers.)
Robert Macfarlane [Perth]—Mr. Speaker, I had intended giving the reasons for the course I was taking prior to the last vote, and as I still desire to explain, the honorable member for Chateauguay [Luther Holton] has given me an opportunity […]
- (p. 1023)
[…] of doing so now. (Hear, hear.)
It certainly did require some courage to undertake to vote against the last amendment—a resolution which seems fair enough on the face of it. At first I was almost disposed to accept it, and it was not until I discovered its real bearing that I determined to vote against it. Honorable gentlemen will remember that, before the adoption of the resolutions, I was desirous that an appeal should be had to the people prior to the consummation of the vast scheme which they announce; and with that object in view, my vote is recorded against your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on the appeal from your decision at the time an amendment was offered prior to their passage. This House having sustained you in the opinion you pronounced, nothing was then left for me, as one of the representatives of the people, but to decide whether we should adopt the policy of Confederation or ignore it. (Hear, hear.)
The latter I was not disposed to do, and the Government received my support on the final vote taken, declaring a union of the British American Provinces to be advisable. These resolutions having been passed, we are now called upon to pass an Address to Her Majesty founded upon them. To this Address, and not to the resolutions, the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] offered his amendment, and to support that would have been the ignoring of my former vote, the declaring an Address different from the very resolutions upon which that Address is to be founded, the sacrificing of a great political scheme for the support of what might unexplained be considered a popular and legitimate motion, but which was in fact a motion subversive of the resolutions, and valueless, save as a means unfairly to be used as a weapon on a hustings. (Hear, hear.) If the honorable member for Peel [John Cameron] desired this amendment, and honorable members of this House, myself amongst the number, understood he was intrusted with the care of it, why did he not, as an old member of this House, as one conversant with its rules and its usages, submit it for our consideration prior to the Honorable Attorney General [George-Étienne Cartier] moving the “previous question,” and at a time when, by your ruling, Mr. Speaker, it would have been admissible. (Hear, hear.)
Had he done so then, members could have voted upon the merits of the amendment. Now that the resolutions are passed, that privilege has ceased. After all the difficulties which have arisen in the management of the public affairs of this country, which have existed so long, and which, I may say, have brought about the present Coalition, it was necessary that some alteration and some amendment should be made. We could no longer proceed amidst the conflicting sentiments which pervaded this House, in the government of a people whose feelings were becoming as hostile as their representatives were antagonistic. And I ask what other solution acceptable to the two Canadas was to be had; what better scheme was to be adopted than that here submitted? (Hear, hear.)
The question of Confederation is no new theory, so far as I am concerned; it is a plan which, during the short time I have taken an interest in public affairs, I have always felt disposed to support, as tending to our development as a country, and our independence and influence as a people; and after the declaration we made by our votes a few minutes ago, namely, that these resolutions should be adopted—after hearing too from members of the Government that they are not now prepared to submit to any alterations, and finding that the effect of not passing this Address, founded upon them, would virtually be to throw us back into the state of political chaos from which we have just emerged, I find another reason why I cannot support this or any other amendment. (Hear, hear.)
Looking at the matter apart from these amendments, I am, with a reference to the past and a regard for the future, obliged to consider this question in a military as well as in a political and national point of view, and cannot but deem its consideration in this respect a necessity—placed as we are on the borders of a nation whose citizens are versed in the use of the arms with which their legions are now dealing death in the field—isolated as we are from the nation to which we owe our allegiance and which guards our rights, but whose acts might occasion our invasion, and subject as our territory is to be the battleground in the event of a difficulty between England and the States—it behoves us to combine our individual strength, give weight and Concentration to our isolated influences, and thus enable us to join effectively with the Mother Country and repel with vigor any acts of hostility that might be taken against us. It is not by the continuation of things as they were, or by the renewal of the conflicting feelings which have existed between Upper and Lower Canada, that we are to add strength to our arms or lustre to oar name; it is not thus we are to developed our resources and give us the revenues requisite for our defence; it is not thus we are to become a people capable of self-government and self-defence, should […]
- (p. 1024)
[…] England ever leave us to our own resources, and sever us from her list of colonies; but by the cementing of our local relations, by the concentration with us, under one government, of the vast territories of the North-West and the peopled provinces of the east, with one community of interest and one object of design, we will be enabled to place ourselves in a position in which we could maintain our independence of a foreign power, perpetuate our connection with Great Britain, and preserve our allegiance to its Sovereign; and should the time come when a severance of these relations should be requisite, the British people of America will not be a crippled chain of powerless and defenceless colonies, but a vast nation, with its sturdy farmers tilling the soil of the vast west, and its daring seamen gathering the wealth of its seaboard fisheries in the east, the one ready to defend our hearths at home, while the other protects our rights at sea, and both ever willing and able to stand by England in her hour of trouble and in her work of good. (Cheers.)
I feel that now is the time for taking such steps if ever they are to be taken. If ever there was an occasion when it was necessary to remove the hostility existing between Upper and Lower Canada, and cement their friendships—if ever there was a time when it was prudent to strengthen ourselves by a union with the other provinces and place ourselves in a position of defence, it is the present, and I speak, I think, the sentiments of all Upper Canada, certainly of all that section of it where I reside, when I say that there is but one feeling there in reference to this matter, and it is favorable to this proposed arrangement, favorable to this plan for the union of the provinces. (Hear, hear.)
Besides, Mr. Speaker, though some of the details are objectionable. I am not prepared to risk the loss of the principle which is admitted in these resolutions, which is one that gives to Upper Canada what she has demanded for years, and gives it whether the other provinces accede to it or not; it is the recognition by Lower Canada of Upper Canada’s rights to an increased representation; it is the acceding of that which Lower Canada has ever heretofore refused to grant, and I cannot, in cavilling at these details, which may hereafter be modified, jeopardise the attainment of the greater object and sacrifice that which is here insured to us. (Hear, hear.)
Again, notwithstanding the declaration of my honorable friend from South Hastings [Lewis Wallbridge] that this measure seals up the North-West I think, on the contrary, that it adds to the prospect of opening up that vast territory. Before long we shall see population extending over these vast plains, across the basin of the Winnipeg and the valley of the Saskatchewan, and thence to Vancouver, and all the sooner if this measure be adopted, supplying as it will a government for the encouragement of its settlement and the protection of its settlers; for the country is as fertile and productive as our own province, and its domain as wide. To the north-west there lies beneath British sway, but as yet all unclaimed, a vast and varied territory, the mineral and agricultural wealth of which no man can estimate, and the future products of which none can conceive—a territory offering the emigrant the choice of its fertile plains, and the miner the wealth of its hidden riches. Here, then, is the policy which tends to the settlement of this vast territory, the development of its immense resources, the opening up of its inexhaustible mines, and with it the creation of a new people, the establishment of increased revenues, and the extension of British influences and British power on this continent. And while developing our resources in the west, it gives an additional outlet for the products of that living mine of teeming wealth in the east—our fisheries—the protection and encouragement of which is as necessary as their wealth to us is inestimable. (Hear, hear.)
Believing, too, that this scheme will tend alike to our internal reform and improvement as Canadians, and the quieting of our political hostilities; that it will give us a larger field for our labors and an additional market for our products; that the connections in trade which it will procure will effect for us enhanced revenues and increased commerce, I, as a Canadian, am willing to adopt it even in this local and selfish sense; but I also see in it a broader policy with a wider field open for our energies and our capital—it is the first step towards establishing on British territory a highway from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and thus procuring for us the carrying trade of Asia and the East with all the enriching revenues which it will insure and the labor it will employ. In short, Mr. Speaker, it is the policy of a great colonial combination, effective alike in civil pursuits and military defence, adding strength to the Empire and influencing the destinies of this great continent. For these reasons I voted against the last amendment, and for the same reasons I am prepared to vote against this one also. (Hear.)
- (p. 1025)
The House then divided on Luther Holton’s [Chateauguay] amendment, which was negatived on the following division:—
|Editors’ Note (2019): Luther Holton’s amendment is as follows:
That all the words after “That” be left out, and the following inserted instead thereof:—”the said resolution be referred to a committee of the whole House, in order so to amend it as to express the earnest hope of this House, that any Act founded on the resolutions of the Conference of Delegates held at Quebec in October last, which may be passed by the Imperial Parliament, will not go into operation until the Parliament of Canada shall have had the opportunity of considering the provisions thereof, and shall, after the next general election, pray Her Majesty to issue Her Royal Proclamation to give effect to the same”
YEAS.—Messieurs Biggar, Bourassa, Cameron (North Ontario), Caron, Cornellier, Coupal, De Boucherville, Dorion (Drummond and Arthabaska), Dorion (Hochelaga), Dufresne (Iberville), Fortier, Gaudet, Geoffrion, Gibbs, Holton, Houde, Huntington, Labreche-Viger, Laframboise, Lajoie, Macdonald (Cornwall), Macdonald (Toronto West), Morrison, O’Halloran, Paquet, Perrault, Rymal, Scatcherd, Thibaudeau, Tremblay, and Wallbridge (North Hastings).—31.
NAYS.—Messieurs Abbott, Alleyne, Archambeault, Ault, Beaubien, Bellerose, Blanchet, Bowman, Bown, Brousseau, Brown, Burwell, Carling, Atty. Gen. Cartier, Cartwright, Cauchon, Chapais, Cockburn, Cowan, Currier, Denis, De Niverville, Dickson, Duckett, Dufresne (Montcalm), Dunsford, Evanturel, Ferguson (Frontenac), Galt, Gaucher, Harwood, Haultain, Higginson, Howland, Jackson, Jones (South Leeds), Knight, Langevin, Le Boutillier, Atty. Gen. Macdonald, MacFarlane, Mackenzie (Lambton), Mackenzie (North Oxford), Magill, McConkey, McDougall, McGee, Mclntyre, McKellar, Morris, Parker. Pinsonneault, Pope, Poulin, Poupore, Powell, Raymond, Rémillard, Robitaille, Rose, Ross (Champlain), Ross (Dundas), Ross (Prince Edward), Scoble, Shanly, Smith (East Durham), Smith (Toronto East). Somerville, Stirton, Street, Sylvain, Thompson, Walsh, Webb, Wells, White, Willson, Wood, and Wright (East York).—19.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]—I rise, sir, to propose another amendment. (Signs of impatience.) I assure the House that I never knew a measure of anything like this importance go through with so few attempts to amend it. Nor do I rise for the mere purpose of putting my amendment on record, for I do feel that the views I am about to express, and which I have ever held since I have been a member of this House, may not commend themselves to any considerable number of hon. members. I have no desire that the rights of the Roman Catholic minority of Upper Canada shall be abridged, nor that the rights and privileges of any other denomination shall be interfered with in any respect. But I wish hon. members to bear in mind that the experience we have had in this country—not to allude to that of the neighboring States, proves that a denial of the right of the majority to legislate on any given matter has always led to grave consequences. I need only mention the Clergy Reserve question.
This, it must be recollected, was forbidden to be legislated upon by the Union Act; yet it was the cause of fierce strife and legislation for many years. The original Constitution of the United States prohibited the question of slavery from being interfered with by Congress; yet an agitation for its suppression was early commenced, and has at last terminated in civil war. (Hear.) The agitation of the Clergy Reserve question produced a rebellion in Upper Canada. I say, sir, that by making a constitutional restriction in respect to the schools of the minority, we are sowing the seeds from which will in the end arise a serious conflict, unless the Constitution be amended.
The minority will be quite safe on a question relating to their teeth and their education in a colony under the sway of the British Crown; but if you expressly withdraw that question from the control of the majority, the rights of the minority will not be safe in either section of the province, if you distrust the action of the majority. It is our duty, sir, to see that a question which affects us so dearly as the education of our children—a question which has before now created no little excitement in Upper Canada—shall not be withdrawn from the management of the Local Legislature. We ought not to deprive them of a power which they will want to exercise, just because they are deprived of it, and provoke a desire on their part to alter the system. You may rely upon it other religious bodies will be sure to protest against any particular creed having special rights, or an exclusive monopoly of certain privileges, whatever they may be. I should be astonished if anyone in this House would say, either to the Protestant minority in Lower Canada or to the Roman Catholic minority in Upper Canada—”You are not to trust to the justice of the majority.”
Have they ever known a country where the majority did not control affairs, and whore the minority had not to submit? Does not the majority rule and the minority submit in England and in France? I have never heard of any state where this was not the case. The minority is safe against undue encroachment on its rights, and I am willing to trust to the sense of justice of the majority in Upper Canada to preserve the religious and educational liberties of the Roman Catholics of Upper Canada. I am now getting somewhat advanced in years, and I am the more anxious to put my opinions on record, because before long I shall have ice satisfaction of saying, though perhaps not on the floor of this House, that I protested against resolutions intended to prevent the free expression of opinion by the majority of the people […]
- (p. 1026)
[…] of Upper Canada, and the exercise of a power which ought to be intrusted to them. My amendment is:—
That the following woods he added to the original motion:—”And that it be an instruction to the said Committee to consider whether any constitutional restriction which shall exclude from the Local Legislature of Upper Canada the entire control and direction of education, subject only to the approval or disapproval of the General Parliament, is not calculated to create wide-spread dissatisfaction, and tend to foster and create jealousy and strife between the various religious bodies in that section of the province.”
If hon. gentlemen think they are going to silence the bitter feelings which have been engendered in Upper Canada in consequence of the attempt to makes permanent a certain system of education, they are much mistaken; and I desire to have the expression of the opinion of the members of this House on the subject, whether they think that the restriction in the proposed Constitution I have mentioned is calculated to bring about harmony, and whether it is not better to let the Catholics of Upper Canada and the Protestants of Lower Canada protect themselves, or rather trust for protection to the sense of justice of their fellow-subjects. (Hear.)
Alexander Mackenzie [Lambton]—Sir, having already voted for the whole of these resolutions as part of the scheme, I cannot have any hesitation in voting against the amendment, but in doing so I desire to explain my position. (Hear, hear.)
If the hon. member for Cornwall (Hon. J.S. Macdonald) had shown the same zeal against the separate school system when he had the power to prevent legislation on that subject, he would have saved himself and the party which kept him in power some trouble. It seems curious that he who was so anxious to promote the separate school system then should now be anxious in quite another direction. (Hear, hear.)
This can only be done for the purpose of party strife, to put as many of us Upper Canadians as he can in a false position; but I can only tell him that I, having struggled as much as anyone to prevent legislation tending to break up our common school system, and having found my efforts utterly ineffectual, do not see that our position would be any worse if the resolutions are carried into law. (Hear.)
I formerly stated that I thought the separate school system would not prove very disastrous if it went no further. I do not now think they will do much harm, if they remain in the same position as at present, and therefore, though I am against the separate school system, I am willing to accept this Confederation, even though it perpetuates a small number of separate schools. (Hear, hear.)
Under the present legislative union we are powerless in any movement for the abrogation of the separate system; it is even very doubtful if we could resist the demands for its extension. (Hear, hear.)
We will not be in any worse position under the new system, and in one respect we will have a decided advantage, in that no further change can be made by the separate school advocates. We will thus substitute certainty for uncertainty. I deeply regret that the honorable member should have thought it necessary for any purpose to move this resolution.
John Sandfield Macdonald [Cornwall]’s amendment was then negatived on the following division:—
|Editors’ Note (2019): John Sandfield Macdonald’s amendment is as follows:
That the following woods he added to the original motion:—”And that it be an instruction to the said Committee to consider whether any constitutional restriction which shall exclude from the Local Legislature of Upper Canada the entire control and direction of education, subject only to the approval or disapproval of the General Parliament, is not calculated to create wide-spread dissatisfaction, and tend to foster and create jealousy and strife between the various religious bodies in that section of the province.”
YEAS—Messieurs Biggar, Burwell, Macdonald (Cornwall), Macdonald (Toronto West), Ross (Prince Edward), Rymal, Scatcherd, and Wallbridge (North Hastings).—8.
NAYS—Messieurs Abbott, Alleyne, Arehambeault, Ault, Beaubien, Bellerose, Blanchet, Bourassa, Bowman, Bown, Brousseau, Brown, Cameron (North Ontario), Carling, Caron, Attorney General Cartier, Cartwright, Cauchon, Chapais, Cockburn, Cornellier, Coupal, Cowan, Currier, De Boucherville, Denis, De Niverville, Dickson, Dorion (Drummond and Arthabaska), Dorion (Hochelaga), Duckett, Dufresne (Iberville), Dufresne (Montcalm), Dunsford, Bvanturel, Ferguson (Frontenac), Fortier, Gait, Gaucher, Gaudet, Geoffrion, Gibbs, Harwood, Haultain, Higginson, Holton, Houde, Howland, Jones (South Leeds), Knight, Labreche-Viger, Laframboise, Lajoie, Langevin, Le Boutillier, Atty. Gen. Macdonald, Mackenzie (Lambton), Mackenzie (North Oxford), Magill, McConkey, McDougall, McGee, McGiverin, McIntyre, McKellar, Morris, Morrison, Paquet, Parker, Perrault, Pinsonneault, Poulin, Poupore, Powell, Raymond, Rémillard, Robitaille, Rose, Ross (Champlain), Ross (Dundas), Scoble, Shanly, Smith (Bast Durham), Smith (Toronto East), Somerville, Stirton, Sylvain, Thompson, Tremblay, Walsh, Webb, Wells, White, Willson. and Wood.—95.
François Bourassa [St. Johns] then moved in amendment:—
That the following words be added to the original motion:—”And that it be an instruction to the said Committee to provide that the Roman Catholic minority of Upper Canada be placed on the same footing as the Protestant minority of Lower Canada, under the local governments of the Confederation of the Provinces of British North America.”
- (p. 1027)
This was negatived on the following division:—
YEAS.—Messieurs Bourassa. Caron, Coupal, Dorion (Drummond and Arthabaska), Dorion (Hochelaga), Dufresne (Iberville), Portiere, Geoffrion, Holton, Houde, Labreche-Viger, Laframboise, Lajoie, Macdonald (Cornwall),O’Halloran, Paquet, Perrault, Pinsonneault, Rymal, and Sylvain.—20.
NAYS.—Messieurs Abbott, Alleyne, Archarabeault, Ault, Beaubieu, Bellerose, Biggar, Blanchet, Bowman, Bown, Brousseau, Brown, Burwell, Cameron (North Ontario), Carling. Atty. Gen. Cartier, Cartwright, Cauchon, Chapais, Cockburn, Cornellier, Cowan, Currier. De Boucherville, Denis, De Niverville, Dickson, Duckett, Dufresne (Montcalm), Dunsford, Evanturel, Ferguson (Frontenac), Ferguson (South Simcoe), Galt, Gaucher, Gaudet, Gibbs, Harwood, Haultain, Higginson, Howland, Jones (South Leeds), Knight, Langevin, Le Boutillier. Atty. Gen. Macdonald, Macdonald (Toronto West), Mackenzie (Lambton), Mackenzie (North Oxford), Magill, McConkey, McDougall, McGee, McGiverin, McIntyre, McKellar, Morris, Morrison, Parker, Poulin, Poupore, Powell, Raymond, Rémillard, Robitaille, Rose, Ross (Champlain), Ross (Dundas), Ross (Prince Edward), Scatcherd, Scoble, Shanly, Smith (East Durham), Smith (Toronto East), Somerville, Stirton, Thompson, Tremblay, Wallbridge (North Hastings), Walsh, Wells, White, Willson, Wood, and Wright (East York).—85.
The main motion was then agreed to on a division, and a select committee appointed accordingly.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West], from the said committee, reported the draft of an Address, which is as follows:—
To The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty.
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Canada, in Parliament assembled, humbly approach Your Majesty for the purpose of praying that Your Majesty may be graciously pleased to cause a measure to be submitted to the Imperial Parliament for the purpose of uniting the Colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island in one Government, with provisions based on the accompanying resolutions, which were adopted at a Conference of Delegates from the said Colonies, held at the city of Quebec, on the tenth of October, 1864. All which we, the Commons of Canada, humbly pray Your Majesty to bike into Your gracious and favorable consideration.
1. The best interests and present and future prosperity of British North America will be promoted by a Federal Union under the Crown of Great Britain, provided such union can be effected on principles just to the several Provinces.
2. In the Federation of the British North American Provinces, the system of Government best adapted under existing circumstances to protect the diversified interests of the several Provinces, and secure efficiency, harmony and permanency in the working of the Union, would be a General Government charged with matters of common interest to the whole country, and Local Governments for each of the Canadas, and for the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, charged with the control of local matters in their respective sections,—provision being made for the admission into the Union, on equitable terms, of Newfoundland, the North-West Territory, British Columbia and Vancouver.
3. In framing a Constitution for the General Government, the Conference, with a view to the perpetuation of our connection with the Mother Country, and the promotion of the best interests of the people of these Provinces, desire to follow the model of the British Constitution, so far as our circumstances will permit.
4. The Executive Authority or Government shall be vested in the Sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and be administered according to the well-understood principles of the British Constitution, by the Sovereign personally, or by the Representative of the Sovereign duly authorized.
5. The Sovereign or Representative of the Sovereign shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Land and Naval Militia Forces.
6. There shall be a General Legislature or Parliament for the Federated Provinces, composed of a Legislative Council and a House of Commons.
7. For the purpose to forming the Legislative Council, the Federated Provinces shall be considered as consisting of three divisions: 1st, Upper Canada; 2nd, Lower Canada; 3rd, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; each division with an equal representation in the Legislative Council.
8. Upper Canada shall be represented in the Legislative Council by 24 members, Lower Canada by 24 members, and the three Maritime Provinces by 24 members, of which Nova Scotia shall have 10, New Brunswick 10, and Prince Edward Island 4 members.
9. The Colony of Newfoundland shall be entitled to enter the proposed Union with a representation in the Legislative Council of four members.
10. The North-West Territory, British Columbia and Vancouver shall be admitted into the Union on such terms and conditions as the Parliament of the Federated Provinces shall deem equitable, and as shall receive the assent of Her Majesty; and in the case of the Province of British Columbia or Vancouver, as shall be agreed to by the Legislature of such Province.
11. The Members of the Legislative Council shall be appointed by the Crown under the Great Seal of the General Government, and shall hold office during life; if any Legislative Councillor […]
- (p. 1028)
[…] shall, for two consecutive sessions of Parliament, fail to give his attendance in the said Council, his seat shall thereby become vacant.
12. The Members of the Legislative Council shall be British subjects by birth or naturalization, of the full age of thirty years, shall possess a continuous real property qualification of four thousand dollars over and above all encumbrances, and shall be and continue worth that sum over and above their debts and liabilities; but in the case of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, the property may be either real or personal.
13. If any question shall arise as to the qualification of a Legislative Councillor, the same shall be determined by the Council.
14. The first selection of the Members of the Legislative Council shall be made, except as regards Prince Edward Island, from the Legislative Councils of the various Provinces so far as a sufficient number be found qualified and willing to serve; such Members shall be appointed by the Crown at the recommendation of the General Executive Government, upon the nomination of the respective Local Governments, and in such nomination due regard shall be had to the claims of the Members of the Legislative Council of the opposition in each Province, so that all political parties may, as nearly as possible, be fairly represented.
15. The Speaker of the Legislative Council (unless otherwise provided by Parliament) shall be appointed by the Crown from among the Members of the Legislative Council, and shall hold office during pleasure, and shall only be entitled to a casting vote on an equality of votes.
16. Each of the twenty-four Legislative Councillors representing Lower Canada in the Legislative Council of the General Legislature shall be appointed to represent one of the twenty-four Electoral Divisions mentioned in Schedule A of Chapter first of the Consolidated Statutes of Canada, and such Councillor shall reside or possess his qualification in the Division he is appointed to represent.
17. The basis of Representation in the House of Commons shall be Population, as determined by the Official Census every ten years; and the number of Members at first shall be 194, distributed as follows:
|Prince Edward Island||5|
18. Until the Official Census of 1871 has been made up, there shall be no change in the number of Representatives from the several sections.
19. Immediately after the completion of the Census of 1871, and immediately after every decennial census thereafter, the Representation from each section in the House of Commons shall be readjusted on the basis of Population.
20. For the purpose of such readjustments, Lower Canada shall always be assigned sixty-five Members, and each of the other sections shall, at each readjustment, receive, for the ten years then next succeeding, the number of Members to which it will be entitled on the same ratio of Representation to Population as Lower Canada will enjoy according to the Census last taken, by having sixty-five Members.
21. No reduction shall be made in the number of Members returned by any section, unless its population shall have decreased, relatively to the population of the whole Union, to the extent of five per centum.
22. In computing at each decennial period the number of Members to which each section is entitled, no fractional parts shall be considered, unless when exceeding one-half the number entitling to a Member, in which case a Member shall be given for each such fractional part.
23. The Legislature of each Province shall divide such Province into the proper number of constituencies, and define the boundaries of each of them.
24. The Local Legislature of each Province may, from time to time, alter the Electoral Districts for the purposes of Representation in such Local Legislature, and distribute the Representatives to which the Province is entitled in such Local Legislature, in any manner such Legislature may see fit.
25. The number of Members may at any time be increased by the General Parliament,—regard being had to the proportionate rights then existing.
26. Until provisions are made by the General Parliament, all the laws which, at the date of the Proclamation constituting the Union, are in force in the Provinces respectively, relating to the qualification and disqualification of any person to be elected, or to sit or vote as a Member of the Assembly in the said Provinces respectively, and relating to the qualification or disqualification of voters, and to the oaths to be taken by voters, and to Returning Officers and their powers and duties,—and relating to the proceedings at Elections, and to the period during which such elections may be continued,—and relating to the Trial of Controverted Elections, and the proceedings incident thereto,—and relating to the vacating of seats of Members, and to the issuing and execution of new Writs, in case of any seat being vacated otherwise than by a dissolution—shall respectively apply to elections of Members to seen in the House of Commons, for places situate in those Provinces respectively.
27. Every House of Commons shall continue for five years from the day of the return of the writs choosing the same, and no longer; subject, nevertheless, to be sooner prorogued or dissolved by the Governor.
28. There shall be a Session of the General Parliament once, at least, in every year, so that a period of twelve calendar months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the General Parliament in one Session, and the first sitting thereof in the next Session.
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29. The General Parliament shall have power to make Laws for the peace, welfare and good government of the Federated Provinces (saving the Sovereignty of England), and especially laws respecting the following subjects:—
1. The Public Debt and Property.
2. The regulation of Trade and Commerce.
3. The imposition or regulation of Duties of Customs on Imports and Exports,—except on Exports of Timber, Logs, Masts, Spars, Deals and Sawn Lumber from New Brunswick, and of Coal and other Minerals from Nova Scotia.
4. The imposition or regulation of Excise Duties.
5. The raising of money by all or any other modes or systems of Taxation.
6. The borrowing of money on the Public Credit.
7. Postal Service.
8. Lines of Steam or other Ships, Railways, Canals and other works, connecting any two or more of the Provinces together, or extending beyond the limits of any Province.
9. Lines of Steamships between the Federated Provinces and other Countries.
10. Telegraph Communication and the Incorporation of Telegraph Companies.
11. All such works as shall, although lying wholly within any Province, be specially declared by the Acts authorizing them to be for the general advantage.
12. The Census.
13 Militia—Military and Naval Service and Defence.
14. Beacons, Buoys and Light Houses.
15. Navigation and Shipping.
17. Sea Coast and Inland Fisheries.
18. Ferries between any Provinces and a foreign country, or between any two Provinces.
19. Currency and Coinage.
20. Banking—Incorporation of Banks, and the issue of Paper Money.
21. Savings Banks.
22. Weights and Measures.
23. Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes.
25. Legal Tender.
26. Bankruptcy and Insolvency.
27. Patents of Invention and Discovery.
28. Copy Rights.
29. Indians and Lands reserved for the Indians.
30. Naturalization and Aliens.
31. Marriage and Divorce.
32. The Criminal Law, accepting the Constitution of Courts of Criminal Jurisdiction, but including the procedure in Criminal matters.
33. Rendering uniform all or any of the laws relative to property and civil rights in Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, and rendering uniform the procedure of all or any of the Courts in these Provinces; but any statute for this purpose shall have no force or authority in any Province until sanctioned by the Legislature thereof.
34. The establishment of a General Court of Appeal for the Federated Provinces.
37. And generally respecting all matters of a general character, not specially and exclusively reserved for the Local Governments and Legislatures.
30. The General Government and Parliament shall have all powers necessary or proper for performing the obligations of the Federated Provinces, as part of the British Empire, to foreign countries, arising under Treaties between Great Britain and such countries.
31. The General Parliament may also, from time to time, establish additional Courts, and the General Government may appoint Judges and officers thereof, when the same shall appear necessary or for the public advantage, in order to the due execution of the laws of Parliament.
32. All Courts, Judges, and officers of the several Provinces shall aid, assist and obey the General Government in the exercise of its rights and powers, and for such purposes shall be held to be Courts, Judges and officers of the General Government.
33. The General Government shall appoint and pay the Judges of the Superior Courts in each Province, and of the County Courts in Upper Canada, and Parliament shall fix their salaries.
34. Until the consolidation of the Laws of Upper Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, the Judges of these Provinces, appointed by the General Government, shall be selected from their respective Bars.
35. The Judges of the Courts of Lower Canada shall be selected from the Bar of Lower Canada.
36. The Judges of the Court of Admiralty now receiving salaries, shall be paid by the General Government.
37. The Judges of the Superior Courts shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall be removable only on the Address of both Houses of Parliament.
38. For each of the Provinces there shall be an Executive Officer, styled the Lieutenant-Governor, who shall be appointed by the Governor General in Council, under the Great Seal of the Federated Provinces, during pleasure: such pleasure not to be exercised before the expiration of the first five years, except for cause: such cause to be communicated in writing to the Lieutenant-Governor immediately after the exercise of the pleasure as aforesaid, and also by Message to both Houses of Parliament, within the first week of the first session afterwards.
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39. The Lieutenant-Governor of each Province shall be paid by the General Government.
40. In undertaking to pay the salaries of the Lieutenant-Governors, the Conference does not desire to prejudice the claim of Prince Edward Island upon the Imperial Government for the amount now paid for the salary of the Lieutenant-Governor thereof.
41. The Local Government and Legislature of each Province shall be constructed in such manner as the existing Legislature of each such Province shall provide.
42. The Local Legislature shall have power to alter or amend their Constitution from time to time.
43. The Local Legislatures shall have power to make laws respecting the following subjects:
1. Direct taxation, and in New Brunswick the imposition of duties on the export of Timber, Logs, Masts, Spars, Deals and Sawn Lumber; and in Nova Scotia, of Coals and other Minerals.
2. Borrowing money on the credit of the Province.
3. The establishment and tenure of local offices, and the appointment and payment of local officers.
6. Education; saving the rights and privileges which the Protestant or Catholic minority in both Canadas may possess as to their denominational schools, at the time when the union goes into operation.
7. The sale and management of Public Lands, excepting lands belonging to the General Government.
8. Sea Coast and Inland Fisheries.
9. The establishment, maintenance and management of Penitentiaries, and Public and Reformatory Prisons.
10. The establishment, maintenance and management of Hospitals, Asylums, Charities and Eleemosynary Institutions.
11. Municipal Institutions.
12. Shop, Saloon, Tavern, Auctioneer and other Licenses.
13. Local Works.
14. The incorporation of Private or Local Companies, except such as relate to matters assigned to the General Parliament.
15. Property and Civil Rights, excepting those portions thereof assigned to the General Parliament.
16. Inflicting punishment by tine, penalties, imprisonment or otherwise, for the breach of laws passed in relation to any subject within their jurisdiction.
17. The Administration of Justice, including the constitution, maintenance and organization of the Courts, both of Civil and Criminal jurisdiction, and including also the procedure in civil matters.
18. And generally all matters of a private or local nature, not assigned to the General Parliament.
44. The power of respiting, reprieving, and pardoning prisoners convicted of crimes, and of commuting and remitting of sentences in whole or in part, which belongs of right to the Crown, shall be administered by the Lieutenant-Governor of each Province in Council, subject to any instructions he may, from time to time, receive from the General Government, and subject to any provisions that may be made in this behalf by the General Parliament.
45. In regard to all subjects over which jurisdiction belongs to both the General and Local Legislatures, the laws to the General Parliament shall control and supersede those made by the Local Legislature, and the latter shall be void so far as they are repugnant to, or inconsistent with, the former.
46. Both the English and French languages may be employed in the General Parliament and in its proceedings, and in the Local Legislature of Lower Canada, and also in the Federal Courts and in the Courts of Lower Canada.
47. No lands or property belonging to the General or Local Governments shall be liable to taxation.
48. All Bills for appropriating any part of the Public Revenue, or for imposing any new Tax or Impost, shall originate in the House of Commons or House of Assembly, as the case may be.
49. The House of Commons or House of Assembly shall not originate or pass any Vote, Resolution, Address or Bill for the appropriation of any part of the Public Revenue, or of any Tax or Impost to any purpose, not first recommended by Message of the Governor General or the Lieutenant-Governor, as the case may be, during the Session in which such Vote, Resolution, Address or Bill is passed.
50. Any Bill of the General Parliament may be reserved in the usual manner for Her Majesty’s assent, and any Bill of the Local Legislatures may, in like manner, be reserved for the consideration of the Governor General.
51. Any Bill passed by the General Parliament shall be subject to disallowance by Her Majesty within two years, as in the case of Bills passed by the Legislatures of the said Provinces hitherto; and, in like manner, any Bill passed by a Local Legislature shall be subject to disallowance by the Governor General within one year after the passing thereof.
52. The Seat of Government of the Federated Provinces shall be Ottawa, subject to the Royal Prerogative.
53. Subject to any future action of the respective Local Governments, the Seat of the Local Government in Upper Canada shall be Toronto; of Lower Canada, Quebec; and the Seats of the Local Governments in the other Provinces shall be as at present.
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54. All Stocks, Cash, Bankers’ Balances and Securities for money belonging to each Province at the time of the Union, except as hereinafter mentioned, shall belong to the General Government.
55. The following Public Works and Property of each Province shall belong to the General Government, to wit:—
2. Public Harbours.
3. Light Houses and Piers.
4. Steamboats, Dredges and Public Vessels.
5. River and Lake Improvements.
6. Railway and Railway Stocks, Mortgages and other debts due by Railway Companies.
7. Military Roads.
8. Custom Houses, Post Offices and other Public Buildings, except such as may be set aside by the General Government for the use of the Local Legislatures and Governments.
9. Property transferred by the Imperial Government and known as Ordnance Property.
10. Armories, Drill Sheds, Military Clothing and Munitions of War; and
11. Lands set apart for public purposes.
56. All Lands, Mines, Minerals and Royalties vested in Her Majesty in the Provinces of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, for the use of such Provinces, shall belong to the Local Government of the territory in which the same are so situate; subject to any trusts that may exist in respect to any of such lands or to any interest of other persons in respect of the same.
57. All sums due from purchasers or lessees of such lands, mines or minerals at the time of the Union, shall also belong to the Local Governments.
58. All Assets connected with such portions of the Public Debt of any Province as are assumed by the Local Governments, shall also belong to those Governments respectively.
59. The several Provinces shall retain all other Public Property therein, subject to the right of the General Government to assume any Lands or Public Property required for Fortifications or the Defence of the Country.
60. The General Government shall assume all the Debts and Liabilities of each Province.
61. The Debt of Canada, not specially assumed by Upper and Lower Canada respectively, shall not exceed, at the time of the Union, $62,500,000; Nova Scotia shall enter the Union with a debt not exceeding $8,000,000; and New Brunswick with a debt not exceeding $7,000,000.
62. In case Nova Scotia or New Brunswick do not incur liabilities beyond those for which their Governments are now bound, and which shall make their debts, at the date of Union, less than $8,000,000 and $7,000,000 respectively, they shall be entitled to interest at five per cent, on the amount not so incurred, in like manner as is hereinafter provided for Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island; the foregoing resolution being in no respect intended to limit the powers given to the respective Governments of those Provinces by Legislative authority, but only to limit the maximum amount of charge to be assumed by the General Government; provided always, that the powers so conferred by the respective Legislatures shall be exercised within five years from this date, or the same shall then elapse.
63. Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, not having incurred debts equal to those of the other Provinces, shall be entitled to receive, by half-yearly payments, in advance, from the General Government, the interest at five per cent, on the difference between the actual amount of their respective debts at the time of the union, and the average amount of indebtedness per head of the population of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
64. In consideration of the transfer to the General Parliament of the powers of taxation, an annual grant in aid of each Province shall be made, equal to eighty cents per head of the pop elation, as established by the Census of 1861; the population of Newfoundland being estimated at 130,000. Such aid shall be in full settlement of sill future demands upon the General Government for local purposes, and shall be paid half-yearly in advance to each Province.
65. The position of New Brunswick being such as to entail large immediate charges upon her local revenues, it is agreed that for the period of ten years from the time when the Union takes effect, an additional allowance of $63 000 per annum shall be made to that Province. But that so long as the liability of that Province remains under $7,000,000, a deduction equal to the interest on such deficiency shall be made from the $63,000.
66. In consideration of the surrender to the General Government, by Newfoundland, of all its rights in Mines and Minerals, and of all the ungraded and unoccupied Lands of the Crown, it is agreed that the sum of $150,000 shall each year be paid to that Province by semi-annual payments; provided that that Colony shall retain the right of opening, constructing and controlling roads and bridges through any of the said lands, subject to any laws which the General Parliament may pass in respect of the same.
67. All engagements that may, before the Union, be entered into with the Imperial Government for the defence of the country, shall be assumed by the General Government.
68. The General Government shall secure, without delay, the completion of the Intercolonial Railway from Riviera du Loup, through New Brunswick, to Truro in Nova Scotia.
69. The communications with the North-Western Territory, and the improvements required for the development of the trade of the Great West with the seaboard, are regarded by this Conference as subjects of the highest importance to the Federated Provinces, and shall be prosecuted at the earliest possible period that the state of the finances will permit.
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70. The sanction of the Imperial and Local Parliaments shall be sought for the Union of the Provinces, on the principles adopted by the Conference.
71. That Her Majesty the Queen be solicited to determine the rank and name of the Federated Provinces.
72. The proceedings of the Conference shall be authenticated by the signatures of the Delgates, and submitted by each Delegation to its own Government, and the Chairman is authorized to submit a copy to the Governor General for transmission to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
The said Address, being read a second time, was agreed to on a division.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West] moved, that the said Address be engrossed; which, was agreed to on a division.
On motion of John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West], a humble Address was voted to His Excellency, praying that he will be pleased to transmit the foregoing Address to Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, to be laid at the foot of the Throne.
On motion of John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West], the foregoing Address was ordered to be engrossed.
Ordered, that the said Address be presented to His Excellency by the whole House.
Ordered, that such Members of the Exe cutie Council as are Members of this House, do wait upon His Excellency to know what time he will please to appoint to be attended with the said Address.
John A. Macdonald [Kingston, Attorney-General West] then informed the House, that His Excellency will be pleased to receive the House with its Address, tomorrow, at 3.30 P.M.
The House then adjourned.
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 Cameron appears to be quoting “The Opinion of the People”, The Montreal Herald (11 March 1865). He claims the article appeared in the Globe about two years ago, while the Herald says three. It references Sicotte-Macdonald, which means it was probably published between May 1862-May1863, but we were unable to find the corresponding articles in the Globe. They may be paraphrasing.
 “The Intercolonial Railway”, The Globe (23 September 1862).
 Cameron appears to be quoting “The Opinion of the People”, The Montreal Herald (11 March 1865). See footnote 5 for more information.
 “The Intercolonial Railway”, The Globe (18 September 1862).
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 Macdonald speech to the Legislative Assembly (19 April 1861) reported by Toronto Leader (30 April 1861) in Canada Transformed: The Speeches of Sir John A. Macdonald (2014).
 The Times [of London]. Unconfirmed reference.
 The Irish Constitution of 1782, which includes the Repeal of Act for Securing Dependence of Ireland Act 1782.
 The Temperance Act of 1864 or An Act to amend the laws in force respecting the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors and the issue of Licenses therefor, and otherwise for repression of abuses resulting from such sale (Province of Canada).
 “Latest from Quebec. Very Full Cacucus of the Upper Canada Liberals. Negotiations with the Government Endorsed”, The Globe (22 June 1856).
 John A. Macdonald in the Legislative Assembly. Unconfirmed reference.
 Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 (Elgin-Marcy Treaty). The treaty expired in 1866.
 Legislative Assembly (27 March 1862) in “Provincial Parliament. Legislative Assembly. Representation by Population”, The Globe (1 April 1862).